My name is Casey Woeber (they/them). I am a graduate student in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling Intern providing identity-affirming care for the LGBTQ+ community. I am a white, nonbinary, neurodivergent human with direct, lived experience with complex trauma. My connection to art stems from early childhood leading into my adolescence, during which I found resilience through the “flow state” experience of artmaking. Flow state is the experience of being so absorbed by an engaging, enjoyable task that your attention is completely held by it.
In my young adulthood, I discovered “flow arts,” which is a type of dance that involves manipulating objects to create shapes and dynamic movement that expands beyond the body through the introduction of a “dance prop.” This type of dance is rooted in martial arts and is more commonly known as Fire Dance. The pathway of connecting to myself in the grounded space of “flow state” was the basis of much of my internal healing process. As an art therapist working with LGBTQ+ clients who are exploring their identity, I value the cathartic experience of “art as process,” and the information about ourselves that can be found in the mediation of flflow state.
Artist Statement: “Flow State”
While creating these pieces, I was in a process of learning where my personal identity and therapist identities intersect. While working with domestic violence survivors, I experienced vicarious trauma that connected to my lived experience. This experience felt like a “blurring of edges,” depicted in the colors and textures mixing together in my acrylic-on-canvas paintings, titled “Fire,” “Water” and “Seed.”
In the spirit of honoring my personal threshold and boundaries, I transferred to a new internship position working with LGBTQ+. This was a step towards working with identities that are heavily present in the fire dancing community, and the lines between my personal and professional lives were blurred again, this time in a direction toward joy. I derived strength from the fire dancing community, which I stepped into 10 years ago when I was given my first fire-dancing prop and told to “burn bright!” Each spoke with a burned wick on the end holds the memory of every fire dancing session that was shared with the community. Throughout this process, I softened into my role as a healer, depicted in the floral and lace elements in the pieces “The Healer” and “Burn Bright.”