Finding Safety through Art: Relaxation Inspiration

Over at Lani’s 14 Secrets yesterday, the Monday challenge was devoted to cultivating relaxation- a very nice way to start off the week!  The challenge’s prompt included creating an art expression that reflected a state of peacefulness & relaxation.

For me, when I make art and I am in that creative head & heart space…a sense of calm and pause embodies me that nothing else can quite do.  I created this artist trading card size image to represent this sense of stillness and balance the creative process renews in me:

Finding Safety through Art: Relaxation Inspiration | creativity in motion
This prompt also inspired me to do some reflecting on the ways I use creative expression with the traumatized youth and women I work in art therapy to best help support a sense of relaxation, peace, and empower their inner strength to create this safe space.

The experience of safety, which is often fluid and can change very quickly with survivors of domestic violence. This often makes it difficult to feel at ease and take refuge from a brain constantly scanning for potential danger and a body geared up to defend against the next threat.  Self regulation, managing strong emotions related to fear & worry, and self soothing are areas of challenge, as well as transformation that can benefit from using art as part of this process.

Finding Safety though Art  | creativity in motion

Sometimes in my work this can involve, but is not limited to introducing sensory based art interventions to restore a sense of power, safely contain paralyzing emotions, and experience the creative process as a here & now safe place to take risks, discover ones strengths, support emotional safety, and instill hope.

Other experiences I introduce for helping “calm our bodies and our mind” can involve guided imagery, deep breathing, body movement, and therapeutic books. This book simply called Relax I enjoy using in group with some of the younger kids I work with.

 Also check out these books and CDs by Roger Klein and Jeffrey Allen to help promote self regulation, positive self affirmation, and tools for relaxation:


Related Posts:

Survivor’s Hand: Finding Safety through Art: #ICANWECAN

Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors through Art

Experience Matters: Inspiration from the 2012 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly


Peace Paper: Papermaking, Art Therapy, and Social Action On the Move in 2012

A new project and team that I am very excited to be involved with is Peace Paper, founded by Drew Matott and Margaret Mahan to empower bereaved international communities through engagement in collaborative art processes addressing peaceful reconciliation and positive forward thinking.  Through paper, writing, book, and printmaking activities, Peace Paper workshop participants transform significant articles of clothing into works of art which broadcast their stories.

Peace Paper announced its 2012 Tour Schedule last week, which includes a variety of workshops, conferences, teaching, and training across the US (Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington DC, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York , Kansas) as well as international visits in Eskulan, Kosovo, Turkey, India, and more with the project’s amazing creative team.

There are a few art therapy focused offerings for 2012 that Drew, Margaret, and I will be facilitating:

  • May 14 – 18- Arts and the Military Conference, Washington, D.C.– As part of The Arts and Military Conference hosted by George Mason University, Drew and I will be offering a five-day papermaking workshop for art therapists and survivors of trauma. This workshop will focus on technical training, practical applications, and hands-on demonstrations of papermaking and implementation for trauma intervention.
  • September 6-8- Buckeye Art Therapy Association Symposium, Dublin, Ohio–  Margaret, Drew, and I will be in the Columbus area as part of the 2012 BATA Symposium. This will include a full day pre-conference workshop for a limited audience to provide participants an understanding about how the papermaking process can be beneficial with populations as a form of social action and therapeutic transformation in trauma and loss intervention.  During the BATA Symposium, we will present a keynote presentation on the topic of art as social action, focusing on lecture and visual content related to utilizing papermaking and creative expression as a cathartic process to give meaning, create transformation, and provide empowerment through releasing and reforming fibers into new stories and new beginnings.   A workshop offering entitled, “Expressions for Peace” will invite Symposium attendees on the following day to create their own reflections and expression for peace on handmade paper flags created from Peace Paper’s recent travels.
  • October 12 & 13- Kansas Art Therapy Association Conference, Emporia, KS– Margaret, Drew, and I will be conducting a two-day workshop for art therapists, including a lecture highlighting Art as Social Action and Papermaking as Trauma Therapy.  This event will also include an exhibit of Peace Paper artworks.
I am so looking forward to teaming up with Margaret and Drew again in 2012 for these events.  Save the date(s) and stayed tuned for more details on each of these offerings!  You can also stay connected to Peace Paper updates and news on Facebook, on the web, and follow the project’s travels through the Peace Paper blog.

Become an Ambassador of Peace: Priority Boxes Project on Kickstarter

Back in March I posted about receiving my box of hope (above) from Franck de las Mercedes’ Priority Box Project.  This global community arts project dedicated to spreading hope, peace, and change through painted mail art boxes celebrates its 5th anniversary this week, having mailed 9500+ boxes all around the world during this time.

The Priority Boxes is currently being featured on the creative funding platform Kickstarter to help support this self-funded initiative. Funding will go toward getting boxes currently on the project’s wait list out and help financially support the project for another year with shipping and supply costs.

This week Franck posted a short film that I remember watching when I first discovered the project last year and requested my box.  It reminds me again why I love this project and why I find it important:

As of this writing, over $3,300 has been pledged via Kickstarter, but for the project to receive any funding, the $5,000 pledge goal must be met.  There’s still time!  You can be an Ambassador of Peace through becoming a Kickstarter backer today and also help spread the word to others during this final week of pledging.  Pledging ends June 2, 2011 at 8:58 P.M. EST.

Healing Imagination V @ Ursuline College

I recently finished “The House That Change Built” for Healing Imagination V, a juried art exhibition to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Ursuline College’s Art Therapy and Counseling Program. This house is dedicated to hope, growth, & truth and built from trust, art, safety and to never stop dreaming.

The House That Change Built

The house was first made with cardstock using these paperfolding steps, then covered with plaster modeling strips to experiment with using this material and another media for my new obsession of making mini houses.  The plaster was painted and embellished with collage, stamping, fragments, and a new material I received from Cathy (thanks!): grungeboard!  I used the grungeboard to create mini message flags that I painted, stamped, and sewed together for hanging across the front of the house.

Grungeboard Message Flags

I’ve also been working on a mini brown paper bag journal for donating to this event’s art raffle and to benefit tornado relief efforts in Missouri.  On the edges of the inside “pockets”  I’ve stamped the words create, give, be, and peace to go along with the peacemaking theme I am working on for the book.

Create, Give, Be...Peace

The Healing Imagination V opens on June 3 with a reception (5:00-6:30 pm) followed by a gallery talk (6:30-7:30) with Artist, Author, and Art Therapist Shaun McNiff at Ursuline College‘s Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery.  The exhibit will be on display until July 8.

Paying Attention to Creativity, Trust, Vision

Since the launch of the Art Peace Sustainability Interactive Event, postcard size art has been steadily coming in to the International Art Therapy Organization and Art Therapy Alliance.  Images inspired by these concepts have been very thoughtful, creative, and inspiring- I can’t wait to see more as the collection grows!  

There is a gallery building on the Art Therapy Alliance website and on the International Art Therapy Organization site, there’s a slide carousel of sets submitted through Polyvore if you are interested in checking out what great art has been created and become inspired to submit your own. Thank you to everyone who has participated so far in this global project and also helped spread the word!  Check out this inspiring “Creative Peacemaking” reflection from Silky Hart’s Wishcasting and this mention from Jamie Ridler Studios.

I finally finished a non-Polyvore image that I have been working on for this event:

Creativity Trust Vision

While reflecting more about the concepts of art, peace, and sustainability I was drawn to these definitions of creativity, trust, and vision. For me, these words are closely linked and are basic components to the event’s concepts:

Art –> Creativity: Able to imagine and create; using originality, stimulating the imagination; extending beyond the normal limitations.

Peace –> Trust: To have confidence in something or someone; to know something in your heart.

Sustainability –> Vision: Creative insight or imaginative foresight and wisdom; something that is seen in a dream.

I believe in the integrity of these words.  While there would be many more I might include, I know that I could have not done probably 99% of the work I do out there without paying attention first to these three. 

Focusing on creativity, trust, and vision this year in particular has had a significant impact for me in a positive way.  Cultivating this potential through connection, collaboration, and actioned intention has been liberating, energizing, and has given me the freedom to be in an entirely different space and with a growing new perspective about what’s really important.  

And finally, I continue to be grateful for the opportunities and people in my life that have contributed to and keep me on this rewarding path towards art, peace, and sustainability.

Think, Respond, Create: Art Peace Sustainability

Yesterday the Art Therapy Alliance and IATO launched a global interactive art event called “Art Peace Sustainability.”

The event includes submitting postcard-sized art works reflecting these concepts or making response art inspired by the following questions:

  • Does art therapy impact peace & sustainability on the planet?
  • How do art, peace, and sustainability intersect?
  • Does the creative process of art making resolve conflicts?
  • Does art therapy build and sustain community?
  • Is art therapy a “green” practice?
You can create as many artworks as you want to and participate here: submit your image to the Art Therapy Alliance group on Polyvore. The event’s concepts have important meaning to me personally and something I also try to incorporate professionally into my work as an art therapist working with children and families impacted by domestic violence. I regularly offer a community-based Peacemakers Art Therapy group for kids to help teach skills and empowerment related to peacemaking and conflict resolution through art-making, creative writing, and other activities to promote non-violence and sustainable living.
In this group, I implement art interventions that explore what peacemaking is, why it is important, and to help identify/develop peacemaking strategies that the child can use at home, school, in the community, as well as with family, friends, and bullies. The art therapy group also supports the child’s emotional expression, self-esteem, working together, and problem solving skills related to the peacemaking concept. The image below was inspired by this work and values I try to inspire in the kids I work with in the Peacemakers Group:
Make Art, Make Peace
How would you respond to the above questions? Time to make some art for a good cause!