Monday, 16 November 2015

Art as Therapy - using other people's art.

Sally Swain, on her Art and Soul blog, recently published a story (click on the link to read it) of one person's recovery from her grief through art. There are many such stories, not all of them leading to exhibitions and shifts in career direction as this one did.

Picasso Sculpture at MOMA
November 2015
Wikipedia says that art therapy began with the psychoanalytic interpretation of symbolism in the client's art work, but using art as therapy was discovered long before that, and art therapy itself has subsequently evolved into a great deal more than the psychoanalysts used it for, with a greater focus on self-expression rather than on interpretation.

Mostly when people talk about art as therapy they mean doing art. Alain de Botton (Swiss born philosopher and author of many well known books) and John Armstrong (Glasgow born philosopher and author now living in Melbourne) published a book in 2013 called Art as Therapy. In it they explored the notion that looking at art, if you do it in the right way, has therapeutic value as well. They contend that this therapeutic value has been lost in the modern world because when we look at art we ask the wrong questions of it and of ourselves.

As Alain de Botton's website says: "This book involves reframing and recontextualising a series of art works from across the ages and genres, so that they can be approached as tools for the resolution of difficult issues in individual life" 

It's an interesting idea that we can solve our problems by enjoying other people's creativity not just by exercising our own.

Enjoying work by Jim Shaw at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, November 2015

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Healing Power of Slam

If you have any doubt about the healing power of poetry read this. It's the story of Emtithal Mahmoud's win in this year's Individual World Poetry Slam a competition that attracts the world's best slam poets.
A member of the Yale Slam Poetry Team and in the final year of her undergraduate degree, Emi is heading for a career as a research physician. She won the competition not in spite of but because of the death of a beloved grandmother that occurred just as she set off to compete.
Emtithal Mahmoud

Emi says of her experience in the competition "you could lose yourself on stage and everyone was there to hold you....I came away from it feeling much better than when I went in and feeling like I did something for [her grandmother],” 

But its not just personal - its political as well. Emi has been a political activist since her teens. She was born in Sudan and her performances call upon her own and her family's experiences in the violence in her country of origin. 

Watch Emi performing at the 2015 National Poetry Slam. Emi's performances epitomise the powerful potential of spoken word poetry.