As I have developed as an artist and art therapist, I have experienced the transformative force of the art process and the power in the externalization of our thoughts and feelings. It has been through embracing my identity as an artist that I have made my way through the challenges of developing an identity as an art therapist. I have been changing my relationship with art materials, art process, and my motivation to make art.
My art making has embraced self-care as motivation, which has shifted how I start my art. The intention behind my art has shifted from a product driven focus to a process driven focus, which has inspired me to use new materials and experiment with how I use them. I have become acutely attuned to how it feels to use a material. Aside from how I start the art process, an essential part of my artistic process has been allowing the art or the materials to incubate. After I start the process, I allow what I have started to steep in my brain and develop new meanings and metaphors that I can embrace and use to enhance the final product. This process of reflection allows me to deepen my relationship with my art and with myself and provides an opportunity to honor and transform my internalized narratives.
Oil on canvas
I began this piece at the beginning of the pandemic when I felt like the magic and innocence that I still carried with me from childhood was officially gone. It was a centaur corpse that represented this loss of magic and innocence. I had recently turned 25 and really began to feel the weight of adulthood and the development of my brain. As I worked on it and lived my life, my relationship with this painting changed. Going through a graduate program during a pandemic has been life changing to say the least. I began to paint mycotic growth coming out of the decay. The growth came to represent hope and resilience of life and how magic is never truly dead. Life and death are intricately bound together and connected and appreciating the fragility of life has led me to try and seek happiness, peace, and connection with every moment that I have. As I worked on my capstone, my relationship with this painting continued to develop as I began reading about and connecting with the wounded healer archetype. I couldn’t help but find it clandestine that I had been working on a centaur skeleton as I read the story of Chiron, the centaur from Greek mythology from whom the wounded healer archetype sprang forth. This painting represents the epitome of the widespread transformation I experienced during my time in graduate school.
Inner Self Critic
Found materials, solder
During the first week back in classes during my final year in the program, I made this little monster for a prompt about our inner self critic. In my reflections I realized that I have dueling critics in my head, telling me I’m “too much” and simultaneously saying I’m “not enough”. Externalizing these feelings into this weird little creation was very healing. Something about its absurdity reminded me how absurd it is that I allow these judgments to keep spewing off in my head. In an effort to contain my inner self-critic, I made a cage out of forks, knives, spoons, barbed wire, and solder, with a mirror base. I used cutlery and a mirror because the inner self-critic has historically had an increased influence on my eating habits and would get louder when looking in the mirror, and it felt beautifully metaphoric to imprison my inner-critic with objects that I no longer want it to have power over.
Insidious Connection Monsters
Found materials, solder, fake grass, styrofoam, solder, wood, plaster teeth, and deer antlers
When reflecting on the thoughts that I have most automatically, I realized that I habitually check my phone when I am stressed and it has slowly become more and more problematic. I describe these phone monsters as insidious because I have had phones since I was in middle school, but my brain has become more and more addicted to scrolling and content over the years. I wanted to explore the reasons and feelings that I have for checking my phone when I am in the middle of a task or needing to start a task. I found that I not only love the dopamine that I get from scrolling, but I can get overwhelmed with the reality of my life and responsibilities and I just want to disconnect, distract, and avoid my own thoughts and duties. Getting lost in a digital world makes me feel so disconnected from the natural world around me, which is why I added the green grass on the outside of the phone cage. Making this piece already has helped me become more liberal with deleting apps off of my phone when I am really busy so I am not as tempted to distract myself with my phone. I still think I have a way to go in terms of finding more internal peace with my own thoughts, but I have become more aware of my behaviors that are distraction attempts.