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As part of our series of events commemorating the fires of October 2017, Sonoma Ecology Center invited international artists Anna Senno and Olga de la Iglesia to bring their unique and therapeutic art performance, “The Color of Emotion,” to Sonoma Valley – and two free performances are now set for this weekend.

All Sonoma Valley residents of high school age and older, particularly those still grappling with the memories of last year’s wildfires, are encouraged to attend either or both of these fascinating events. The first performance is Saturday, Oct. 13 at Sonoma Garden Park. The second performance is Sunday, Oct. 14 at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Both are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a break from 2 to 3 p.m., and participants may arrive at any point in the proceedings. (The events are free but registration is recommended. Click the above links to register.)

During the performance, participants are led to a private place where they change into all-white clothing provided by the artists. In a separate area, six buckets of paint are set out, each containing a different color associated with a different emotion: anger, acceptance, fear, joy, disgust and sadness. Then, under the careful guidance of the artists, participants paint themselves – their white clothes and even their skin – leading them to reckon with their feelings as they use the corresponding colors.

“You think it’s an easy task,” says Senno, a painter and filmmaker – and yet to accomplish it, strange questions must be answered, such as Which emotion do I start with? and Where is my sadness? “Slowly you start to understand a system of your emotions,” she says.

The process helps people gain perspective on their inner landscape as well as their outer one – our relationship with nature. It’s a necessary and healthy process, “Because we are nature,” says de la Iglesia, a photographer.

For the past week the artists have been in Sonoma developing a color palette – based on natural, locally sourced pigments and on the colors’ cultural meanings in that place – to use in the upcoming performances. At the end of each performance, a conversation is held between artists and participants, which is recorded and made into a short documentary by the artists, both of whom have documentary backgrounds.

These accomplished European artists usually perform in larger metropolitan areas like New York and Copenhagen, so to have them in Sonoma is a rare opportunity. They’re here on the invitation of Sonoma Ecology Center staff members, particularly Kim Jones, who met Senno in Paris, and Garland Lamb, who is sponsoring their residency in Sonoma. Lamb said she hoped the performances would be cathartic for Valley residents, and that she intends to help “build a tradition of art at Sonoma Garden Park and at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, both of which the Ecology Center stewards as places of connecting and healing.”

According to Senno and de la Iglesia, “The Color of Emotion” succeeds at this by connecting people to colors, places and to their own emotions, and they note that it already has had a powerful and positive effect on participants in other locales. They, and we, hope it will have a similarly positive effect here in Sonoma Valley.

The performances are part of Sonoma Ecology Center’s event series focused on the anniversary of the October 2017 fires. Other events included an Oct. 8 film screening at Sebastiani Theatre one year after the fires began, and a renewed series of our popular Fire Recovery Walks. Click the link above for full listings.

What: “The Color of Emotion” Saturday performance
Where: Sonoma Garden Park, 19996 7th Street East, Sonoma
When: Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.

What: “The Color of Emotion” Sunday performance
Where: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood
When: Sunday, Oct. 14, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.