20 May 2012

Is art therapy?

Art hurts. Art urges voyages - and it is easier to stay at home.    
Gwendolyn Brooks                                                                                    

It is my belief that artists serve a very worthy cause - that of expressing the human condition, in all it's convoluted forms, for those that would otherwise feel isolated in their experience of existence.  There is a very real need for even the darker side of life to be interpreted for the better of mankind. 

What about the artist? What need in them is being fulfilled in the act of creation? How much of it is ego - wanting to be famous and/or make lots of money from it? And how much of it is an authentic desire to express and share their inner world? 

Anybody can produce art. You may wish to have pens, paints, paper etc but drawing in the sand, selecting pebbles, cooking, gardening, even the way we dress - these all represent our inner selves, in varying degrees of honesty. Art as a therapy can be powerful - it helps to switch off the cognitive part of our brain - that which has a desire to justify and rationalise. It gets us in touch with our intuition and allows emotions to flow without old voices saying "pull yourself together". It can help us to process a trauma - I have worked with a client to write their traumatic story which proved to be very cathartic. Some may freeze at the prospect of trying to be creative. Switch off...nobody is judging. Let loose...

This piece of art, a graphic short story, was written by somebody very close to me (not a client). A creative individual who has always loved drawing, and has a love of graphic novels, he has written some graphic short stories and is working on a graphic novel himself. He said that this particular work was influenced by his undertaking counselling, which helped him to come to terms with a particularly difficult time in his life - losing his estranged father. I love this piece because of it's honesty and it's poignancy which I think is as a direct result of the flow of painful emotions which were involved in it's creation.

In Memoriam by Brian Helmers

More of his work can be found here: http://brianhelmersgraphicnarrativeemporium.wordpress.com/ 

and here: 


Laura said...

As someone who can hardly draw a stick man the idea of art therapy intrigues me. Brian's work is amazing and really tells the story through his eyes. It's incredible how pictures can evoke/express emotion we maybe didn't even know we were holding. For me, my art used to be poetry or music but I've struggled to write/play for a long time now.
Your words "Switch off...nobody is judging. Let loose..." also made a lot of sense to me right now.
Thanks for the reminder that it might make a difference.
Take care,

Amanda Williamson said...

Hi Laura, lovely to hear from you. Poetry, music - how I wish that you can connect with your creativity again and have those your blog is so well written some of your posts read like poetry. I don't think that art fixes anything, but it helps us to feel less alone. Sometimes I feel acutely lonely, even though I have a family that I love. It's part of being human and art - whether creating it or observing it - helps us to be human.

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