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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Stretching mind, body, and soul in a creativity workshop at Lagalá

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Claire Tyrpak
Claire Tyrpak
Claire Tyrpak retired to Mérida in 2021 after a career managing programs for nonprofits, government and a university in the United States. She has been a world traveler since the 1980s and Mexico is the fifth country in which she has lived.
An arts workshop at Lagalá in Mérida, Yucatán. Photo: Claire Tyrpak / Yucatán Magazine

On a recent warm Friday, I made my way to Lagalá 56:426 in Santa Ana to participate in an expressive arts workshop. Not knowing too much about it, I decided to check it out anyway. 

Lagalá is a cultural center in the heart of Mérida. I climbed the grand staircase to the art space, a former retail area above the center’s restaurant Te Extraño, Extraño.

In one of the high-ceilinged airy rooms, the workshop was led by Mauree Pahuja, who is visiting from India. She began the class with a meditation, and I closed my eyes and breathed slowly as Pahuja instructed. Afterward, we did some physical movement and then walked around several rooms.

After the meditation and physical movement introduction, she instructed us to move into creation and imagination. We were to decorate an envelope with the many options spread out on the table before us. There were various stickers, ink stamps, colored markers, paint, pens, and other decorations. We were invited to create what we wanted without concern for what others might think, without judgment.

Our group spent about half an hour creating our decorative envelopes and then wrote a letter to ourselves a few years in the future. The simple process provided a creative outlet in a fast-paced, head-centered world.

An arts workshop at Lagalá in Mérida, Yucatán. Photo: Claire Tyrpak / Yucatán Magazine

Our instructor has conducted similar workshops in several other countries, such as Lebanon and Switzerland. The expressive arts workshops are a creative outlet, working with three organizations: Initiatives of Change, School of Conscious Politics, and People Beyond Borders. Before Mérida, she conducted a two-day workshop with children in Oaxaca. It was her first time in Mexico.

Pahuja has a full-time job as a contact lens specialist and makes artificial eyes. She works with her ophthalmologist father and her sister, allowing her some flexibility to pursue her creative passion.

Pahuja conducts workshops several times each month for different organizations, some online. She has been leading workshops since 2017, but it all began in 2014 and 2015 when she randomly picked up some crayons and started drawing. She works with 30 different kinds of traditional and mixed media. She describes it as connecting with something divine and sees art as holistic healing, believing all humans are creative. Pahuja plans to get a Ph.D. in expressive arts in the U.S. or Switzerland and wants to combine the arts and humanities with science.

Having opened its doors in 2018, Lagalá 56:426’s building was an abandoned mansion. The art space holds workshops, pop-ups, and art exhibits. Yesenia Lope is the art director at Lagalá and she describes the space as un lugar para ser, a space for creativity.

Other recent workshops include textile jewelry in miniature weaving, coffee and paint, and painting your own ceramic mug. They hold at least one event each month. Te Extraño, Extraño serves brunch from 8:30 to 5, as well as breakfast and lunch, and offers vegan options.

Reach Mauree Pahuja on Facebook or email mauree1992@gmail.com. Lagalá 56:426 is on Facebook and Instagram.

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