Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Conference

Today was the SIUe 25th Annual Spring Art Therapy Conference and we were really fortunate to have Shaun McNiff ( The workshop centered around working with resistance. Shaun is an amazing speaker—he is very charismatic and really understands the value of involvement. The whole experience was really inspiring. Shaun really utilizes all the arts in his practice, and we explored a lot of movement interpretations as well as created our pieces while he was playing rhythmic music on drums and sanzas (an african instrument that is really enchanting!).

Here are some pictures of our ceremonial scarfs from the program. At our orientation at the beginning of the fall semester we started our scarfs and their was a scarf ceremony to welcome us into the program. Throughout our time in the program we continue to work on the scarves, and they become symbolic of our growth as therapists and in the program. Since this was the 25th Anniversary of the program, we displayed the scarfs of past alum and current students and faculty—it was really a beautiful sight.

This is the first piece that we did. It was about using movement to create the image, and letting the image itself emerge. It was really easy to lose yourself in the artmaking with the enchanting music in the background. I started a second piece but did not get to finish it (so you get to see what a work in progress looks like!). After making these pieces we learned how to respond to our pieces through movement, and eventually responded to a partners piece as well through movement. (It was quite humorous because we were supposed to work with someone we didn't know and Tessa and I were the last ones to not pair up—so I ended up being paired with the one person I know the best. We commented to Shaun about this and he said "that's fate for you!")

Here is all of us walking through the images and witnessing them. Shaun described this as a beautiful dance, and it was so nice see all these images that had emerged, and to know that we all created them together. We were all witnesses to this creativity—it is so beautiful and inspiring.

The next piece we did was to be made out of natural objects. The dogs and I had gone on some nature walks to gather stuff the night before, so almost all the stuff is from the apartment grounds or the park across the street. We then witnessed everyone's piece and then had a dialog with our own piece. Right before we started the dialog, my piece was accidentally broken, and I had to fix it. Knowing that, this is what mine said:
It's ok to be broken and put back together
I am changed but I am still me
The integrity of my own uniqueness
How fragile am I, yet I can regroup and be strong
It was really amazing to me how a piece that I did not originally see as very meaningful spoke to me at a core level, and had so many important things to say to me. It was so valid and relevant to my life, and who I am.

As a closing ritual we all brought our nature objects to the center of the room and spoke one word about the day/our pieces. It was really nice to see all the pieces gathered together in one place, and to hear the variety of words evoked. Mine was bonded. (If you look closely you can see my piece!) It really was an inspirational day... what a treat!

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