Local center hosting festival to celebrate female artists

Participants of local programs that encourage healing and self-discovery through art will have a chance to showcase their work at the Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Festival this Friday night.

Sponsored by the Greenfield-based Salasin Women’s Center, the second annual SWAN Festival will feature musical and spoken word performances, poetry readings and an art gallery. The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. at 74 Federal St., in the building used by the Recover Project and the Western Mass. Recovery Learning Community. Donations are encouraged so that the center can purchase new art supplies.

The event, part of a larger movement to support women artists with local events, is an extension of the weekly programs offered by the downtown women’s center.

Weekly sessions, like a “Women’s Relationship to Nourishment” art group and a peer-to-peer creative writing group, allow women a chance to meet others and learn and grow in a safe environment, said program coordinator Laura Stone.

Colrain resident Robin Brooks, who started attending the programs two years ago, said that the SWAN Festival is all the more important in a world where female artists are often taught to silence themselves. Many of the women who attend the center’s weekly programs have had difficult circumstances in their lives, she said.

Brooks, one of a small group of women who have been planning this year’s festival, recently finished a painting she had started at her first art group session two years ago.

At the SWAN Festival, she plans to read poetry from her book “The Blooming of the Lotus: A Spiritual Journey from Trauma into Light,” which serves as a resource both for women survivors of sexual abuse and for therapists working with clients.

Greenfield resident Morgan Thomson, who booked performers and will be the event’s stage manager, said that attending the center’s programs has been an incredible experience.

“I’ve met so many different types of women from all walks of life,” said Thomson. “Every week is a constant inspiration to push myself further, both professionally and emotionally. It reminds me to have faith and keep going.”

Everyone, men and women, are invited to attend the Friday evening event. Light refreshments will be served at the sober event.

In addition to the scheduled performances, an open microphone session will allow anyone the chance to share their own music, poetry or spoken word compositions.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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