Posts Tagged ‘illness’

In Words & Images: Self Expression and Healing

September 30, 2013

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:

DreamChest

Sacred Chest of Dreams

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.

NewSenseOfSelf

From my Smashbook

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.

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“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

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Related Posts:

My Beautiful, Altered Brain: Altered Book

MRI Digital Art for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

My Beautiful, but Altered Brain

 

Legacy Making: Drawn Together

March 3, 2013

I’ve been sooo anticipating the arrival of Drawn Together: Maintaining Connections and Navigating Life’s Challenges with Art, a book co-written by Roar & Katarina (Kat) Thorsen…and my copy arrived yesterday!

Drawn Together

Drawn Together: Maintaining Connection and Navigating Life’s Challenges through Art

Drawn Together is Kat and Roar’s touching story about their relationship as daughter and father and how the power of art and the creative process can provide meaning, affirmation, and connection in the face of life changing illness and loss.

I’ve  followed Kat’s journey with her father’s stroke, cancer reoccurance, caregiving, and his art making moments through her blog, Instagram photos, and status updates on social media with much admiration.   Before her father’s death,  it was very moving to see Kat be so open and expressive about managing her father’s declining health and to embed the creative process throughout their journey to help Roar continue connection, create a legacy, and celebrate life & their relationship as father and daughter.  Drawing, filmmaking, journaling, photo documentation, and the collaboration for creating their book were all creative ways memories, experiences, and emotions were embraced and continue to live on in the here and now.

Yesterday as I opened the pages of Drawn Together and held their journal pages, I could feel Roar and Katarina’s love in my hands, as well as the essential role and life line art served in their relationship and journey.  A very beautiful legacy…. on so many levels.

As quoted by Kat, “Drawn Together is a call to action to collect stories and to create a legacy.  Don’t wait for the ultimate moment, for that moment is here NOW and it is fleeting“.  Agreed.  Thanks to Roar & Kat for sharing their story with us.

You can learn more about Drawn Together, here.

MRI Digital Art for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

June 13, 2012

Here are the first eight digital art images I’ve created with my MRI scans for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain:

First I photographed some sections of my old MRI films, then used photo editing software to transform the photo into digital art.

I really enjoyed the creative process of altering these scans. The process of experimenting & transforming each image provided me with an openness and freedom to explore different themes in a way that I couldn’t before.

As I faced each image and reflected on my experiences, I started to focus on those personal strengths that I believe have helped me the most in times of need related to managing illness: hope, bravery, learning, perseverance, and gratitude.

To my surprise I started to view these images, my driving need to create them, and my overall experience as a celebration of so many important things related to support, treatment, trying to stay healthy, active, being positive, gratitude, and balancing life.

I thought about everything I’ve been able to do, enjoy, create, give back to, and appreciate since my diagnosis 10 years ago.  While it hasn’t all been easy and can surface feelings of denial, isolation, frustration, worry, and uncertainty, there’s still lots for me to be thankful for.  These images are a reflection of that.

 My experience has inspired & contributed to making choices & doing things I didn’t think I could do, but I did- and it’s all good!

A big part of helping to be able to start this process of art-making with my MRI scans has been the inspiration of Elizabeth Jameson and her art, so this is definitely worth another mention. I’ve so admired her work, story, and advocacy from a distance via the Internet for awhile, but throughout the last few months I’ve enjoyed an e-mail correspondence with Elizabeth which continues to motivate me even further, has helped with additional reflection about how one views illness & has put much into perspective for me. Very grateful for this connection and support!

I hope to continue to develop this series further through perhaps using the images to create an altered book, a video or maybe use for some digital storytelling content. Making progress… 🙂

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