As an intern I worked with an Eastern European older adult refugee and immigrant population, who were very resistant to art making due to cultural concepts. Finding a way to integrate art therapy into addressing the group’s needs for language learning was a challenging process, but also very meaningful, and our 18+ month journey together has led to a space of sharing, learning and artistic partnership. I wanted to honor the first art pieces group members created by recreating the images and subject matter of their choice (sunflowers, the Portland rose, and a drawing of Natalia Pushkina) into a collage.
The pieces of flower pattern fabric are from the era of the former Soviet Union, relating to the experiences of the group members growing up. The choice of the embroidered white fabric alludes to the traditional onion shaped architectural domes of the group’s heritage culture as well as to the amazing sewing skills of some members. As group members were overcoming boundaries, I chose sewing, which is a medium I hadn’t engaged with much before, but which offered opportunities for new exploration and, as I found to be personally meaningful, quietude, centeredness, reconstruction and repair.
I am constantly inspired by the power of art to help access lived experiences and emotions, enable intuitive connection, heal, transform, ground and give expression to who we are. As a future art therapist I look forward to continuing to meet people wherever they are at, and finding ways to engage meaningfully
with art together to reach their goals.