The Value of Community Care in Difficult Times

We are all familiar with concepts of self-care as an important practice to take time for attending to our emotional, psychological, and physical health,  wellbeing, and needs.  Engaging in self care has often been highlighted throughout this pandemic to bring attention to strategies connected to managing our stress, isolation, and extreme changes associated with COVID-19’s impact.

Beyond self-care however, is the value of community care and its importance in taking responsibility and accountability to collectively care for one another, especially showing up in the hard times of distress and struggle.  Community care is also examining how we can use our privilege to be present and of help for another person or a group of people in ways that activates support and commitment not just on an individual level, but as a collective consciousness dedicated to caring for others in our communities and world. For example, people have been hand sewing and making masks for healthcare workers, loved ones, and community members to help protect everyone from COVID-19 infection. Our mask wearing, physical distancing, and handwashing hygiene to mitigate COVID-19 is a responsibility we can all practice for the health & well-being of those around us.

We have also witnessed a form of community care throughout US cities and beyond in other countries coming together to collectively support Black Lives Matter in unprecedented ways to denounce the murdering of African Americans at the hands of the police, shed light on the realities of systemic racism, and through acts of demonstrating, protesting, creating public & street art in response, as well as the use of digital activism through social media to amplify messages of support, solidarity, and anti-racism.

Community care has been an important component of taking care of each other during these difficult times. Read this recent post from YES! Magazine to learn more about how community care is showing up in this “next normal” we are trying to make sense of for ourselves and more importantly, others.

If you are interested in exploring the concept of community care with art therapists, below is an artist trading card exchange focusing around this theme that you are invited to participated in– what does community care look like to you?

Related Posts:

Creative Action Link Round Up: Self-Care, Responsibility, Community

Creative Action Link Round-Up: Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, & Social Change

Finding Calm Through Creativity In Uncertain Times

Creative Action Link Round-Up: Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, & Social Change

This creative action link round up shares some art therapy and art-based resources to learn more about racial trauma, ways that art therapists can practice anti-racism, as well as how the arts are providing a voice to pain, loss, suffering, and bring communities together in protest, meaningful change, hope, solidarity, & advocacy.  This post also honors the contributions of African American pioneers in the field of art therapy.

  • Creative Healing Spaces: Healing From Racial Wounds: Three lessons art therapist Lindsey D. Vance has learned about changing the framework of therapy in her practice with clients of color to respond to racial trauma, engage in community based practice, and bring communities together through art.  Lindsey also participated last week in a Creative Justice FB Live with Sharon @ Spark Your Creative to discuss the intensity of what we are seeing and hearing, how it can deeply affect our ability to create , what we do create, and how we can heal ourselves and others affected by violence in our communities.
  • Cultural Humility in Art Therapy– In this book published early in 2020, art therapist Dr. Louvenia Jackson writes about cultural humility in art therapy, as a lens to address power differentials and encourage art therapists to examine privilege within social constructs, become mindful of our own bias, assumptions and beliefs.
  • Anti-racist Approach to Art Therapy: Re-examining Core Concepts– Three strategies from art therapist Dr. Jordan Potash for art therapists to confront race-based injustices & power differentials in our practice and with systems. Learn more about how art therapists can develop an anti-racist perspective, re-examine art therapy concepts through anti-racist paradigms, and advocate for system change.
  • Framing Race in the Context of Art Therapy: Art therapist Dr. Cheryl Doby-Copeland frames race in the context of art therapy through defining racism, racial trauma, & bringing awareness to the impact of societal discrimination & oppression with clients & families of color.

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  • Honoring African-American Art Therapy Pioneers : Learn about the contributions of Georgette Seabrooke Powell, Charles Anderson, Dr. Sarah McGee, Dr. Lucille Venture, and Cliff Joseph to the profession of art therapy as leaders, clinicians, educators, researchers, authors, artists, and advocates.

 

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My Own Call to Action: 

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Related Posts:

Creative Action Link Round Up: Self-Care, Responsibility, Community

20 Creative Quotes on Courage, Hope, & Possibility

Creative Resilience Link Round Up

COVID-19 Material Management and Best Practices for Art Therapy

This week I started to cautiously ease into providing in-person art therapy groups at one the sites I am at that has re-mobilized face to face group therapy programming for clients.  A lot of consideration has been made organizationally to create a physical environment that will be safe for clients needing services.  This starts with mandatory healthcare screening measures and clearance upon entering the overall facility such as temperature checks, self report questions about potential COVID-19 symptoms and risk, lots of signage and visual cues for physical distancing in common spaces, and being provided a mask to wear if you do not already have one.

Within the program space in which I provide services, every group member is required to physically distance at least 6 feet from other members and the facilitator, which also includes limiting the maximum number of clients allowed in the group space depending on the required amount of space needed for physical distancing.  Everyone on-site (group leaders, staff, and clients) wear masks throughout the day’s programming.

As an art therapist facilitating primarily group work, I want to keep clients, their families, staff, and myself as safe as possible during this transition of navigating to this next normal of gathering together again, even if it is 6 feet apart.  The usual use of art therapy materials that are commonly available to the group or used in a session (often shared or handled by multiple people and as a community), as well as the way materials are managed or distributed in the art therapy space required serious reconsideration.  In an effort to make sense of this new, developing practice for myself and help educate or reassure those coming into the art therapy space, I drafted this COVID-19 Material Management and Best Practices in Art Therapy two pager. 

The two pager provides practices on three areas: Hand Washing/Sanitizing,  Material Management, and Disinfection of Art Materials to help promote infection control and decrease the spread of germs and illness.  I also provided examples of media that I use in my art therapy space to help distinguish between supplies that would be considered single use or could be used multiple times if properly disinfected.  I also started to individually put art materials into ziploc bags that could be given to clients to use (and clean before putting back into the bag) or if not possible to clean (such as oil pastels) to keep for their own use at home or discard.  Obviously in a group setting, where the amount of clients and number of groups throughout the week can be several, there may not be the necessary budget to sustain giving materials away or throwing them out.

As this evolving situation with COVID-19 continues to emerge, additional practices and approaches will certainly also surface within the art therapy community.  Medical art therapists who regularly work with immune comprised patients have instituted infection control procedures with their materials and their way of working as a common form of practice.  Considerations are made for providing meaningful and therapeutic art interventions that not only emotionally support a patient they are working with and appropriate treatment goals, but also the necessary use of handling, prepping, and using materials in the physical space to ensure this is a safe practice and will do no harm to ones health and wellbeing.   Art therapists’ knowledge and understanding of materials are a primary foundation to our practice, expertise, and training.

The two pager I created was informed by the valuable experiences of the medical art therapy community, as well as art educators working in classrooms with lots of students who are trying to figure out how to teach and make art together safely as a group when they are finally able to return to some form of in-person learning.  This American Art Therapy Association (AATA) COVID-19 related resource and recent journal publication, as well as AATA webinars that were hosted in March and May also provided helpful information about working in this new environment.

I am curious if you have any suggestions for practices you’ve started to use or consider for face to face art material use in this time of COVID-19, especially related to work with groups or more than one individual at once?  We can definitely keep learning from eachother as we face unfamiliar situations and working because of this pandemic.

Building Online Creative Communities in the Time of COVID-19

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

Earlier in this month, a special report was published by Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association that provides protocols art therapists can enact during this time of COVID-19 to support public health psychosocial guidelines informed by the Ebola & SARS epidemic, caring for frontline health workers, & building creative communities online. You can download the report here.

Included in this report, the use of social media and online platforms can be valuable tools to support information exchanging, sustain interpersonal relationships, decrease isolation and provide creative opportunities to engage in community, meaningful connection, and relational experiences online.

What are your thoughts? How have you used social media differently during the last couple of months in response to COVID-19?

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Finding Calm Through Creativity In Uncertain Times

We have all been experiencing and navigating an uncertain terrain of intense change & loss during this worldwide pandemic.   The impact of this public health crisis has been overwhelming.  For me, it has been comforting to find some refuge and calmness in connecting to my own creativity and the creativity of others during this time of isolation.   This has taken the form of mindful doodling, working on artist trading cards that I will be sending out as mail art, gathering for virtual art making on Zoom, and enjoying the art & creative expressions filling my social media feeds.

Every year, April 15-21 is designated as World Creativity & Innovation Week which is celebrated to recognize the important value of creativity on our lives and around the world.  This year I believe WCIW shines a bigger, brighter spotlight on the role of creativity on these dark times, as our lives, workplaces, relationships, and well-being have collectively experienced great stress and disruption.

When fellow creative, artist, poet, friend, and Spark Your Creative creativity coach Sharon Burton reached out to me to spend some time talking with her on World Creativity & Innovation Day about creating calm through creativity, I was honored to help inform this discussion. It is always a pleasure to chat with Sharon and I appreciate when her creative acts and inspiration pop up in my social media feeds.

Finding Calm through Creativity in Uncertain Times | Creativity in Motion

Some of the topics we touched on were creativity as self-care, ways to activate creativity as a family in these times of staying at home, tips for jumpstarting your creativity if you think “I’m not creative” or if you are experiencing a creative block or feeling stuck.  You can catch the replay here.

In addition to our discussion, I also wanted to share some resources and content that also addresses some of the topics we covered:

How have you used creativity during this time of COVID-19?

Art Therapy Round Up: Connecting & Creating During COVID-19

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

A few years ago, the site brightdrops.com posted this about Albert Einstein’s very well known and inspiring quote “Creativity is Contagious” (a favorite!):

It’s funny to think of creativity being contagious, like a virus, but it really does spread from one person to another, just by the act of that second person watching the first be creative…Then find that others start acting the same way, and before long you’ve got a virtual creative epidemic on your hands. (brightdrops.com, 2016)

I think of creativity in this way a lot.  So much, it inspired me to dedicate an entire chapter in The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media about my concept of 6 Degrees of Creativity and examples of how our art making and creative deeds can have a profound influence among and around us, on and offline.  These times of COVID-19 create a unique lens (in many ways!) about…

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Art Therapy & Technology Digital Time Capsule: How Do You Use Technology as an Art Therapist in 2020?

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

At the beginning of this new year & decade, the idea of creating an art therapy & technology digital time capsule seemed like it would be a fun and collaborative project to invite current art therapists and future art therapists to participate in! This digital time capsule is an opportunity to document our relationship and activities with technology in 2020 as art therapists and re-visit the responses 10 years from now in 2030. As this time capsule project begins to take shape with contributions, sharing some of the questions & responses from the art therapy community also makes this process fun!

DigitalTimeCapsule

This first blog post features examples from art therapists about how they use current technology in 2020 as an art therapist. Responses are divided into seven areas and includes practices, tools, platforms, software, and activities related to therapeutic work, administrative tasks, learning & professional development, research, teaching & education…

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Gratitude Round-Up: Creativity, Resilience, & Well-being

creativity in motion

I thought today would be a nice time to re-share some of my favorite archived blog posts about gratitude, creativity, resilience, and well-being. I enjoyed re-visiting these and I hope you will enjoy this round-up too:

These posts continue to guide me about the importance of having a gratitude practice and the role of creativity in helping support and express what we are thankful for– especially in times of uncertainty, stress, or conflict. Not just today or when times are tough, but beneficial for our well-being everyday.  A wonderful opportunity for us to activate daily creative practices with an attention to gratitude.  🙂

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Top 8 Loves About Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors

Here in Cleveland, it is the final week of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrorexhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The city has been so fortunate to have this amazing experience over the last three months:

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors celebrates the legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s 65-year career. The exhibition spans the range of Kusama’s work, from her groundbreaking paintings and performances of the 1960s, when she staged polka-dot “Happenings” in the streets of New York, to her widely admired immersive installations and the U.S. debut of her recent series of paintings, My Eternal Soul. Visitors have the unprecedented opportunity to experience seven of Kusama’s captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms, including Where the Lights in My Heart Go (2016), exclusive to Cleveland. Additionally, a stunning array of large and vibrant paintings, sculptures, installations, works on paper and rare archival materials can also be seen. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is on view in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall and Gallery, and in the Ames Family Atrium, July 7 through September 30, 2018. The Cleveland Museum of Art is the only Midwest venue for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors and one of only five U.S. venues to present this exhibition. ~Cleveland Museum of Art

I first experienced one of Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors Room when I was in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and waited for hours at The Broad Museum (who had a special Twitter feed just to update visitors about wait times!).  The wait was well worth the 30 second experience of their singler room!  I was so excited to learn last year that Cleveland would become a temporary home to 7 of Kusama’s installations this summer and knew it needed to go on my 2018 artist date list. 🙂  I am grateful that I was able to see the exhibition twice: first, during it’s debut week before the show opened to the public and then I returned earlier this month for a second viewing.  Each experience was amazing!

It has also been fun to see friends, students, colleagues, and the greater Cleveland community engage with this exhibit on social media through sharing video, photos, blog posts, news, and more.  Such excitement and enthusiasm surrounding getting tickets, attending and sharing the experience with others.  With the exhibit closing this week, I wanted to share some of my reflections and memories of the exhibit here in Cleveland:

Top 8 Loves About Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors

  • Polka Dots: From the trees outside of the museum, to inside the lobby, and throughout the exhibit in not only Kusama’s immersive room environments, but also the collection of paintings, sculptures, collages, photographs, and other creative works created over Kusama’s career. Learn more about Kusama’s interest in polka dots here.  My favorite polka dot experience was in and around the installation for “.

  • Light: What my attention was most immersed in when stepping to many of the Infinity Mirrors Rooms was being surround by light everywhere and this endless presence…. above, below, and all around.

  • Social Media– The phenomena of social media has been an incredible element of Kusama’s work reaching more and more people and more and more people wanting to see it. Myself included! This article speaks to Art in the Instagram Age and how social media is shaping our experience with art.
  • Stickers– Kusama’s Obliteration Room was by far my very favorite.  We took photos of the room’s entrance when we first visited the space during the exhibit’s first week in July and then another photo in early in September. Think of all the people who came through this space over the last three months and left their mark with the sticker sheets we were each given! I think it visually shows us how overwhelmingly powerful our collective presence can be, including obliterating what was once easily visible around us.  Take a look Inside The Obliteration Room at the Cleveland Museum of Art here.

  • Color– There was certainly no lack of color in Kusama’s work- which was vividly expressed through so many patterns, textures, design, and forms.
  • Love Forever Infinity Mirror Room– This installation was not one of the rooms we were able to walk in and out of, but instead invited us to take our time peering through a square cut out box that revealed our reflection among a field of mirrors and lights. Definitely one of my top experiences!

  • Joy– There was such a strong feeling and community of excitement among the visitors attending the exhibit- in person and online.  Most of the Infinity Mirror Rooms offered a private, intimate, and immersed moment in time, but for me it could also be felt beyond those reflected walls of mirrors and light.
  • Kusama’s Creative SpiritThe life and story behind Yayoi Kusama‘s career as an artist and how her art has been a life affirming force and refuge to express her experiences, fears, hopes, and curiosities. As an art therapist, I appreciate how Kusama has found safety, acceptance, and life in her art  — not just for others to experience or post on social media, but as a daily creative practice for herself.

 

 

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Social Media and the Creative Process

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

This week over on the Creativity in Therapy blog, art therapist Carolyn Mehlomakulu posted Exploring the Stages of the Creative Process – a great read about how the creative process can unfold in art therapy. The post also explores how the creative process and its different stages can continue to be practiced or implemented in everyday life- even when not engaged in art-making.

Social media also has a connection to the creative process and its different stages! Below is an infographic for Chapter 7, Social Media and the Art Therapist’s Creative Practice which explores how social media impacts modern day creative work and suggestions for art therapists to consider for strengthening or adding to their creative practice.

As described in Chapter 7 (p. 137):

Social psychologist Graham Wallas (1926/2014) identified one of the early models of creative thinking, including essential stages of the creative process: preparation, incubation, illumination, and…

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