This past Friday & Saturday, I attended Ohio’s Buckeye Art Therapy Association Annual Symposium, Self Expression and Healing. Since I’ve returned home, I continue to work on art that I started over these two days:
One is a small wooden chest that was given to our group after the paper, Grace, Creativity and Breakthrough: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, presented by Ursuline College’s Master of Art Therapy Program Founder Sister Kathleen Burke Ph.D, OSU, as a takeaway art-making experience to celebrate awakening moments, our creative gifts, and honor our dreams. I painted and stained my treasure chest with lots of green: a color symbolizing life, growth, and vitality that St. Hildegard defined with the word viriditas. Inside the chest I added tissue paper with a variety of gems, seaglass, and some of my previously created fragments. We were prompted to write down/about our own dreams and awakenings to also include inside this special chest.
Another art-making experience from the Symposium I am continuing to work on is inspired by Art Therapist and Author Dr. Harriet Wadeson‘s keynote. Dr. Wadeson’s keynote address and workshop focused on using creative self-expression in the face of illness. Her own personal experience and journey with cancer and described in her book Journaling Cancer in Words and Images: Caught in the Clutch of the Crab, was the foundation for what she presented over the Symposium’s two days. It was very powerful to see and learn more about the altered book pages and emotional expression Dr. Wadeson created in response to and cope with her cancer.
During Dr. Wadeson’s workshop, we were prompted to reflect on illness or a major crisis/time in our life and how this experience impacted or perhaps changed our sense of who we are. The suggested prompt was to create a “before” and “after” self image to represent this reflection.
As I worked in my smashbook in response to this art directive, I was humbled by the power of art (again) to help sustain us through difficult and challenging times. The making of altered books or working within a journal has been a particularly safe space for me to do this, using both written words and images, to provide a container for those emotions, thoughts, and moments hard to put into verbal language.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe