Organizing an Artistic Laboratory in the Old Wash-House of the Cavalsassi Kindergarten in Rome

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: September 2012 - Project end date: March 2013
Project number: 2012-070
Beneficiary: Fondazione Asilo Cavalsassi


The project plans to integrate foreign children, nomads/travellers etc. into the school community through the application of an innovative model of psychology that uses the languages of art (Narrative, Musical and Visual) to improve the conditions for participation in processes of social cohesion avoiding the psycho-social distress in children and the risk of deviance.
Psychopedagogy and research studies in this area demonstrate that “school abandonment” is related to poor socialization, isolation, bullying, inability to maintain an adequate standard with regard to rules and regulations.
Similarly, in ethnically mixed classes, generally there is the real occurrence of cognitive and emotional disabilities that limit the acquisition of social skills, causing aggressive responses in children. Furthermore, it is now established that an improvement in pro-social skills and social skills is closely associated with preventive intervention that develops in the socio-educational path in childhood.
Some applicative tools for prevention and cure of distress identifies in art and in the development of creativity by the means of achieving harmonious conditions in the development of the personality in individuals and in interpersonal contexts.
Several authors have focused on experimenting on the effectiveness of it especially in Childhood. Lev Semenovic Vygotskij stressed the “cathartic method” liberator of art, highlighting the importance of applying in subjects at risk of deviance because “art, it can get to, where words can never arrive”- bringing out expression, the quest for new solutions and change.
The multiple channels of expression use figurative art, plastic and music lends themselves in an immediate and profound way to reach the subjective and interpersonal experience of the children, the latter conditions are important because subjects whose development prove difficult, problematic and complex, come to know themselves in relation to their own imaginative world encouraging the processes of identification with oneself and with others.
An initial trial of the studies by the means of the Psych pedagogy model developed in the project as described above, involved 50 children from the school.
At the end of the first year of testing, all important data was drawn together based on the effectiveness of the activated processes, therefore confirming some expected results regarding the acquisition of pro-social skills as well as gaining emotional and cognitive skills.
Furthermore a reduction in disruptive and aggressive conduct was revealed, benefitting a greater acquisition of communication and emotional skills, causing a positive impact on the quality of interpersonal relationships with peers and adults.
This experience has been presented in a multimedia publication which illustrates the path of emotional and relational integration, addressed in the trial of the language of expressive arts.
In order to optimize best practices and implement the activities effectively as per the project, it is necessary to provide the school a permanent workshop, a designated space ad hoc, in which to continue and consolidate the project, to date temporary preparations have been carried out mainly in the classroom and the gym.
However within the school premises there are disused rooms which could be invaluable to the goals of the project. In one of these is an old wash trough that could prove to be an important teaching aid/tool within the Expressive Art Workshops.

The Nando Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant for this project to provide the school a permanent workshop facility in which to experience the different languages of art for primary prevention, permitting the access to children outside the school.

Thematic Areas of the training project
The areas of development on which the project is formed encompasses various fields of interest psycho-pedagogy and are highly formative for the function they perform.
These have been identified in the project because they are an integral part of the P.O.F (Piano dell'Offerte e Formativo) Formative Offer Plan which the school provides, also the cornerstone of the integral formation of the personality in individuals in childhood with preventive relevance.

The Narrative: to develop narrative thinking through the representation of lived experience and reality in cognitive -emotional issues, learning to experience oneself and others in the world.

The Languages: to communicate effectively in a multicultural society, removing any cultural and linguistic barriers, experience the socializing in group more immediate and affective in their own language.

The Music: to breakdown and recompose rhythm and vocal sounds, learning to decipher and reproduce with the musical language, the colours of the melodies of the world's languages.

The Visual Art: To shape the thoughts into tactile and colour experiences, so that in each story the children feel aware of the need to assert themselves in the active experience that they make of the world.

Educational Goals and Activities
The training activities of the project aim to consolidate:
-    Personal experience of every child in the ability to express positive and negative emotions.
-    To communicate their own experience and this to others with the aid of tools/creative materials and with the support of an adult.
-    Experience in peer groups with the socialization of expressive language (musical and graphic/plastic) by means of developing empathy by sharing in groups.
-    The perception of the sounds of their mother-tongue and reproduction of it, socializing and sharing in group through sound-play activities that identify the melody and harmony of the language of origin reproducing the peculiar aspects of sound and rhythm.
-    The repertoire of expressive-communication with the use of colour and plastic-visual experiences that recreate the stories of individuals and groups in an universal language, a common code of expression which brings together the differences in the development of creativity of belonging and of solidarity.

The activities are developed within three laboratories: the narrative, musical and visual art (painting and plastic).
The stories, tales put together by the children in the laboratory are translated into different languages: English, German, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Tagolog and Italian).
By reading the language of stories, children will be guided to identify for each musical expressiveness of the language from a rhythmic and vocal perspective, reproducing the sounds and playing with them in the musical workshop (assisted by musical instruments, recorders, etc.)
In the next phase the association will propose them to identify the colours of the sounds of the tale narrated, through that language, and will proceed to express with the painting (on paper, textiles, wood, etc.)
At the end of this phase the story will resurface and will be told in Italian, graphics will be produced resulting from the child's imagination, utilizing paints and plastic materials (ceramics, paper mache, wood etc.) in the Visual Art Workshop.
In conclusion, the experiences created in the workshop will be collated into a single narrative structure supporting the experiential aspects of different languages.

Operational Procedures
The renovation of the old washhouse for the project.
The Asilo Cavalsassi has not got a permanent laboratory equipped to carry out the activities envisaged in the draft. However there are rooms which are no longer in use, one of which is currently used as a warehouse.
The special architectural features of this place ensure that it can be used in a manner appropriate to the aims of the project and would encourage the children to discover new forms of expressions of creativity.
There is an old stone wash-house of exquisite workmanship (please refer to the enclosed images) equipped with a drainage system outlet to the sewers, which needs to be restored to full working condition, ensuring new and improved features, and to enhance natural daylight emanating from the two windows above. The ceiling of the wash-house, which was used yet not so long ago, is vaulted as seen in the enclosed picture, and a restoration required texturing all brickwork and beams.
A staircase, that connects the wash-house to an area when the children get changed, could be re-enabled, pulling down a wall plug, as its early design permits vertical movements - both ascending and descending - which will then develop in water plays.
Thus, before being mixed with clay (the clay will be manipulated by children, alongside the assistance of specialists, which will produce forms which are then cooked on the spot in ovens ad hoc), water will spring from the bottom upwards, it will fall like rain and cascade from above and then it will flow from front and side vents, sliding onto inclined surfaces, it will be drawn into vortices, the entire sequence will be studied, in order to produce water games and sounds and tinkling and splashing that will create, in turn, a musical background accompaniment .
Therefore the necessary restoration on the wash-house would allow the movement of water as an important teaching aid of sound and music, which is already currently carried out, and at the same time make sure that the water can be collected for kneading the clay and create ceramic forms and mix colours, to encourage new experiences with colour and shape, in addition to those already experienced in some other contexts, and to promote, in a way even more complex, the exercise of individual and collective narrative.


Fondazione Asilo Cavalsassi

think global, act local
you are here: Home  > Projects:  Charity or Europe  (or Both)  > 2012-070  > Project Description