Grace B

Title: Structured Spontaneity
Dimensions: 36” x 30”
Materials: Mixed media sculpture (wire, aluminum foil, papier-mâché, acrylic paint and sand)

The density of this sculpture’s exterior shell paired with the movement of its textural lines, depict the structured spontaneity I embraced this year as an art therapist. In this sculpture, I let the materials lead. I formed the wire frame into the shape it wanted to become. The papiermâché was applied with all of its imperfections and the rawness of the edges were left exposed. Just as I allowed the materials to lead in this process, I encourage clients to lead in the therapeutic relationship, and I follow where they need to go.

At the beginning of my internship, I tried to fit my clients into a narrow box of what I believed art therapy had to look like. The rigid structure I implemented helped ease my anxiety but did not fit the needs of the people I worked with. Over the course of my internship, I learned how to provide therapy that was more spontaneous and fluid while still working within a strong framework of safety.

Throughout the process—as I used multiple papier-mâché techniques, cut through the wire and layered on the paint—this sculpture changed its form. In order to create a piece that was strong and balanced, I had to be willing to give up on one approach and move to the next. Similarly, throughout my internship, I learned to let go of a pre-determined therapeutic approach in order to provide flexibility for the client.

The end product appears different from every angle. As you walk around the piece, the negative space shifts and new forms take shape. When the room grows dark, the sculpture’s light creates a warm glow on the walls that changes the mood of the room. Art therapy can and will look different depending on the person you are serving and the environment you are in. There is not one definition; not one formula. As an art therapist, I will continually adjust my process as I attune to the needs of my client.