The Founding Story of Yohaku Art Collective

We developed Yohaku Art Collective using the Expressive Arts methodology. The artistic process was at the centre of every step we took in exploring and shaping our business and our collaboration.

We developed Yohaku Art Collective using the Expressive Arts methodology. The artistic process was at the centre of every step we took in exploring and shaping our business and collaboration. 

From Expressive Arts students to entrepreneurs

“We” are Joanna Wróblewska and Ineke Hulselmans. We both started our Expressive Arts studies at the same time with the Step Ahead Expressive Arts Institute in Berlin and we attended the same summer training at the European Graduate School (EGS).

“We” are Joanna Wróblewska and Ineke Hulselmans. We both started our Expressive Arts studies at the same time with the Step Ahead Expressive Arts Institute in Berlin and we attended the same summer training at the European Graduate School (EGS).

After our first year of studying with Barbara Hielscher-Witte in Berlin, we were inspired to see if we could start working together and if so, how our collaboration would shape. Finally, we decided to establish an art collective. Rather than approaching this from a business perspective and filling out a typical business canvas, we turned to the arts and, in particular, to the Expressive Arts process to receive support and guidance. 

The journey through the arts

Our journey started in Ineke’s favourite little cafe in Antwerp, where we had coffee and cake, and spoke about what we wished for our collaboration and for our futures working as Expressive Arts consultants and facilitators. We collected words we thought were essential and used them as the starting point for developing our visions.

What followed were aesthetic responses in painting, poetry and stories. Each step brought us to deeper levels of understanding of where we wanted to go and each step offered surprises and inspiration to continue our playful journey of discovery. We noticed similarities in shapes, phrases and colours present in our artworks. Through the artistic process, we found a common thread in our visual and written narratives. Slowly, something emerged that would later be transformed into Yohaku’s vision and mission.

Finding common ground

In the creative process and the aesthetic analysis of our artworks, we discovered a mutual longing for an opening, an empty space. We both visualized a space where the power of imagination could be truly experienced. Honesty, ease, joy and a deep connection were equally important to both of us too.

Starting from this common ground, we began our research. We brainstormed possibilities for the name of our collective. Then we used shapes and colours from our artworks to create the logo. Finally, we distilled our mission from the touching poems that we wrote earlier in the process.

We found everything in the arts. There was no need to look elsewhere. 

Yohaku Art Collective

Yohaku Art Collective opens up to the empty space of yohaku, which is one of the six elements of Japanese beauty. It represents a pause, a margin or a blank space between words or design elements and implies meaning.

What we found out through our own Expressive Arts experience was that with the Yohaku Art Collective we want to support individuals, groups, and communities in the processes of inquiry and transformation through art-making and that we believe art can nurture and sustain people on their emerging journey towards change.

And now?

Today we are still very proud of this process. It is a story we have told many times and which keeps inspiring others. We have both used the same approach to develop businesses with our clients and we can say that it works! Anyone with a longing to become an entrepreneur can be nurtured by the exploration of professional longings through the Expressive Arts process. 

It has been two years since we took our first step at the Yohaku Art Collective. In these two years, we have organized multiple workshops and events using the method of Expressive Arts. All of it in the playful spirit of being open, curious, and receptive to what the arts can bring into our lives.

It has been two years since we took our first step at the Yohaku Art Collective. In these two years, we have organized multiple workshops and events using the method of Expressive Arts. All of it in the playful spirit of being open, curious, and receptive to what the arts can bring into our lives.

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Dr. Joanna Wróblewska is a visual artist and an Expressive Arts practitioner. She has lived in several countries and currently resides in Germany. Joanna is deeply fascinated by East Asian philosophical concepts and traditional practices. She truly enjoys working in cross-cultural settings using her professional interdisciplinary expertise. In June 2020, she obtained an MA degree in Expressive Arts Therapy with a Minor in Psychology.

Ineke Hulselmans has been working as a changemaker, organizational coach and facilitator of collaborative processes ever since she graduated with a Master in Political Science. Now Ineke is finishing her master thesis in Expressive Arts Therapy. Art enriches her facilitation and coaching practice. It allows her to create a space for questioning, exploration, and emergence. She works with Expressive Arts in a variety of settings, from starting entrepreneurs to artists, therapists and researchers.