Art Therapy with Michael Franklin

Art Therapy with Micheal Franklin

The Speaker

For the art therapy symposium this year of 2015, Marywood was honored to have the guest speaker, Michael Franklin. Dr. Franklin has amazing views and concepts in art therapy; he follows the tanspersonal-humanistic approach in art therapy and believes yoga has healing abilities. When he first entered the art field he was an art educator, but he quickly learned that his true calling was as an art therapist. Some of the greatest artists, including the ceramist, M.C. Richards, taught him. The artist confidently shared with the audience that he battled and overcame cancer. Through the therapeutic qualities of art, he was able to relieve the psychological aspects and stress of cancer. He made many other great strides in his life, including helping the sick in India and working in Africa with children and art therapy. Michael Franklin’s lecture was highly informative and inspired me to go as far as my career will take me.

The Experiential

For the experiential, we worked with clay. The clay held every mark, grove, and dent we made. Dr. Franklin asked the audience, “what is clay?” and someone in the crowd responded “mud.” Everyone laughed and our guest speaker agreed. He elaborated saying that clay starts as mud, but people have the ability to transform it into beauty. Dr. Franklin said that he has heard people say that they can’t paint, but he has never heard people say that they can’t “clay.” During the experiential, we were not supposed to communicate; this allowed us to enjoy the clay without distractions and pay attention to our inner selves. The audience had about 5-8 pounds of clay each to use for two experientials.

The first directive Dr. Franklin gave us he learned firsthand from M.C. Richards. It required everyone around the table to elongate their own blocks of clay and connect them with the clay of the people sitting next to them. After my table connected our clay to create a round clay ring on the outskirts of the table, we were instructed to “play” with the clay. I made a fortress with flanking towers and flags; my neighbors made waves, a sea monster, and a chinchilla. The next step was for us to incorporate our neighbors’ designs into our clay to show we visually understood what they were trying to communicate. I put a chinchilla on top of my tower and made wave and scale designs in the sides of my walls; my neighbors made waves, a tower, and a flag. It was interesting how unique all of our areas were, yet we were still able to make them all connected.

The second directive given was to attach our clay with our neighbor’s to make a scribble drawing in clay. For 15 seconds, we moved and marked the clay mindlessly. After we identified what imaged emerged within the scribble. Lastly we transformed the entire block of clay into image we identified. My partner and I made a bird on a tree branch about to be in flight. The piece of clay that I moved and bent naturally took form into a bird’s head and beak, and my partner made a branch-like form. By not talking, we were able to allow the images, art therapy, and the clay to communicate for us.

As an art therapy major, I am minoring in ceramics because I love the material, its qualities, what it captures, and everything it does for me. The symposium improved my understanding of clay and its abilities. The therapeutic qualities of clay help all walks of life. Dr. Michael Franklin taught me more ways to work with clay that I will surely use in my future career as an art therapist.

And a big thank you for Michael Franklin and all of Marywood’s faculty and staff that made this event possible. If you have any questions about my experience at the symposium, would like to share about your experience at the symposium, or if you have your own views about Dr. Michael Franklin, please add your comment below.

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