Small Mall hosts self-care workshop


Alexa Marzina | Contributing Writer

Atiya Jones distributes copies of “Our Stories in Other Voices” at her Small Mall self-care workshop.

By Alexa Marzina, Staff Writer

Lawrenceville’s Small Mall, an art market concept store, definitely lives up to its name size-wise, but that did not prevent a number of guests from attending the artistic workshop dedicated to improving one’s self-concept.

The marketplace, located on the corner of Butler and 53rd streets, opened in July. It showcases both local and regional artists in a space only as large as a typical bedroom. As part of Casey Droege Cultural Productions, the space holds about 30 artists’ works of various mediums.

One of the artists on display currently, visual artist Atiya Jones, popped into Small Mall last night to teach another form of expression: self-care.

“The purpose of this project is to hear the way we communicate with ourselves about ourselves projected through the bodies of other people,” Jones said.

Her workshop, entitled “Our Stories in Other Voices,” used her self-made zine of the same name to encourage self-reflection among the 14 women in attendance.

“I think that as human beings, we’re not always extraordinarily kind to ourselves,” Jones said. “So this is a little bit of space to be honest and if your honesty is kind, that’s great.”

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i’ve kept a journal since the age of 7. it’s a place to plan, fantasize, rant, and decipher self. one of things i wrote down, on the first of this year was, “i want to quit.” and that’s fine, because that’s how i felt, and i’m allowed to *want* to quit. i also empowered those words on paper, so that i might cease their mental reign. although i’m not through (or nearly started) reflecting on tonight’s writing session, i can tell you that i absolutely do not want to quit. not on me. not on you. we have too much to do together. thank you to every single person who came, to those that wanted to, or shared the info, and to the ones that slipped in a “good luck” text. we all needed this one. glow on ✌🏾⚡️

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Going around the circle, individuals read out the selections from their received book — the words and feelings of another human being.

“I think that hearing other people say your own thoughts out loud was a really interesting sensation and it really does put a new perspective on how I speak … to myself,” said Maura Mullen of Garfield.

One of the selected questions asked to describe desires through the five senses. As responses were spoken into existence, nodding heads and thoughtful facial expressions rippled through the group.

“So everyone is trying to smell lavender,” Jones said, laughing at the similarity of answers in the group. “We’re all just here feeling the same feelings.”

For the next exercise, participants were to fill in three more prompts in the random book before they found their ways back to their original owners. Going around the circle again, those feelings were shared as well.

Personal affirmations, goals, flaws, desires and everything in between flowed freely and easily through the lips of those whom they didn’t belong to. More nodding, some chuckling and the occasional outburst of “same!” filled the room.

“My favorite part was listening to other people’s answers to tough questions — ones that I passed up,” said Harley Skibicki of Lawrenceville.

The night wrapped up with an activity that Jones said required bravery: reading the affirmation that each one wrote aloud. Everyone closed their eyes, and as each person spoke in turn, they let the healing words flow through them.

“I am enough.”

“It is never too late to call yourself an artist.”

“I can do this.”

“I am capable of actualizing my desires.”

Jones has taught this workshop a handful of times before and said she loves it because it always feels different, though there seems to always be a form of “sameness” throughout each group. A lot of people revealed similar struggles in certain questions.

“Some of those questions are hard to answer, ones that I haven’t even thought about,” Skibicki said. “And I kind of felt bad about not thinking about them [before].”

While Jones specified that self-care isn’t just wearing a face mask and doing yoga, it can feel good for yourself to do those viral activities. REED & CO juice samples and acai power bites fueled the bodies of the voices during the workshop and Jones encouraged everyone to take advantage of them in addition to the catharsis of the workbook prompts.

“I am someone who hates to feel lonely in a problem, so for me, I wanted to find a connection with other people,” Jones said.