Education through Rehabilitative Art-photo


Art photography helps people with special challenges, people with difficulties or people who are experiencing considerable discomfort to express themselves creatively, and in turn develop greater autonomy, discover hidden abilities, develop positive life attitudes, and enable relationships with others.

The hypothesis is that while expressions in words, moods or thoughts may be difficult, a visual medium will facilitate this communication process. Photography will allow the representation of individual views, of things, people and places. In education for people with challenges, art photography can be used to facilitate regulation of emotions, and facilitate intercommunication, making people visible to themselves and to others.

The workshop scenario presented here was developed in the E.T.R.A.-project. ETRA learners have undergone a learning path specifically focused on photography. First step was to promote cultural awareness through visiting exhibitions and showing them didactic materials. Once learners were stimulated about arts and about self-expression, they were guided in a next step consisting of producing artistic photos, photo collages, photo painted, graphic re-elaboration of photos, etc.




 Main goals of the activety:

  • Stimulate the processes of selection of images (Editing).
  • Stimulate the processes of creation of meaning.
  • Promote communication.
  • Increase the understanding of different point of view.
  • Promote a self-expression through photography.
  • Promoting dialogue building a collective work.


STEP 1: Selection of own photographs

Participants worked with photographs taken by them. The printed images were arranged on the space available. Each participant was asked to choose images (from a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 10) that he liked the most and that were most representative for the participant.


STEP 2: Creating your own space of meaning

My story, my home. The selected images were arranged on a large white sheet. The participants were asked to choose autonomously where to put the photos. The assignment was to create a story with a personal meaning.


STEP 3: Writing down associative word

Participants are asked to find words connected to each photograph. The words should be written spontaneously. They are supposed to describe emotions, sensations and or memories.


STEP 4: A meaningful title for the personal creation

Participants are asked to examine the photos and words they have written and to explore if they can find a title to name the entire collage.


STEP 5: This is my home

In this phase, each participant has “invited” the other members of the group to discover their “home” (the personal collage) explaining the reason for every choice made (pictures and writing). ln this way participants were able to share the personal meaning of theirown creation.


STEP 6: Creating the map of the town of the group

in this phase it was decided to create a map using the collective creation made by individual members of the group. An entire wall was covered with paper on which participants have attacked their collage by selecting the location on the map. Through the art materials available have been asked to create connections between different houses I collage (roads, parks, shopping, adding characters, etc.) constructing a map of the collective group.


STEP 7: A meaningful title for the group creation

Participants are asked to examine the map they had created and to find a common name of the city.


Outcomes achieved

The process of sharing photos with the group has allowed the participants to talk about what was important for them. This has significantly increased their self-esteem and the ability to tell their stories. In this case photographs may act as a substitute for verbal communication, offering a visual language and means of conveying emotion; they may be used in a metaphorical sense, allowing the person to speak through the image or as a means of organizing and structuring what a person want to say, offering both a framework and a focus for conversation. It’s possible to choose to talk about the content of the photography, the story behind the image or the meaning it holds.

The collective work has allowed the group to create a shared space where each member has been able to feel free to move beyond embarrassment and situations of inadequacy.




  1. Aleksander

    17 September 2014

    I wonder if you managed to display the photos for some time after the workshops for other people to be able to see the exhibition.

    We’re looking for a way to organize a rotating exhibition of photographs taken by our students on different project occasions and make it a distinct feature of our environment. Have a look at the discussion we initiated in the Digital Group. The technical issues (quality of the photographs, framing, fixing on the walls, etc) seem to be closely interconnected with purely artistic issues (artistic value of the photos and their arrangement in the exhibition).

    If you had any more examples of how you do it at GAIA and the Outsider Art Network, we’d be glad to see such examples and learn how to improve our work.

    Thanks a lot for the ideas in this path.


  2. Cinzia

    25 February 2015

    Good news! The organizer of the ARTES workshop in Lucca, (IT) will use this learning path and the Italian translation will be ready very soon. I am wondering if there is any video material that can be used as presentation during the workshop and eventually where I can find it.



  3. Cinzia

    13 April 2015

    Dear Maria,

    I am sending the link to the website of the Italian organization which is organizing the workshops in the schools using this learning paths

    Kindest regards,

  4. Cinzia

    15 May 2015

    Dear Maria,

    I am happy to inform you that the learning path has been adapted to a new target group ( school students) and works very well :-).
    Some more news, pictures and the new learning paths will be posted very soon on the Italian section of the platform, stay tuned!!


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