So sorry I have been MIA with my post last week, it was a hectic week and I lost track of time. BUT, I am back and ready to provide more inspiration and insight on my perspective on what Art Therapy means or could mean to others.
For this weeks post, I want to explore the relationship between art making and emotional relief. With the permission of artist, Betsy and her gallery show called Migration, I will be providing images and content of the show and its meaning.
To start, this show is immediately impactful and powerful as soon as you walk into the gallery space. 350 hand sculpted birds greet you and co-exist among these handmade trees. I spoke with Betsy on the meaning of this show and she explained to me that she had two major events happen in her life that she needed to express. She goes on to say, “the story I wanted to tell is, in its essence, a story of migration both in body and in mind and so birds were the logical choice.”
Before really diving into the meaning of what it all meant to her, I asked about her art-making process. This brings us to art therapy and it’s meaning to individuals who need to convey someone but do not know how to put it into words. This related to Betsy who expressed that she needed to get her story out but she was never good at finding the words to do it. This brings about this piece and why she made it. She hand sculpted each bird and to her this meant “they had their own story and they were their own being.”
Usually, when writing about someone’s work, you don’t want to use too much space on one topic, but I felt as thought it was necessary to include what she said about these birds. “A ceramic piece, from its beginnings as a lump of clay through the process of forming, and preparation, drying, hardening, solidifying, firing, cooling and then firing again, becomes an object as solid as stone, that can stand the test of time, that can be handled and used and still hold its integrity. Each piece holds a story beyond what its shape gives it, a history of earth and water, shaping and fire. Each bird went though this process and through it gained its integrity as an object that will symbolize an individual. I guess what I am trying to say is I appreciate that each bird has its own story beyond the one I have given it, the story of how it came to be.”
This show, already being powerful in imagery, now has power in meaning to not only Betsy, but the viewers. Looking at this, you don’t automatically think migration and family and trauma and renewal. You think birds in a tree, a scene of nature at its purest form. But Betsy was able to cultivate this idea to fit her emotional past and allow a sense of healing among the work. The reason I wrote this for an art therapy blog is to explain that art comes with emotional qualities. Many times emotion is tied to a piece from the artist or what emotion the artist wants to convey. For Betsy, she was unable to share her story with words, but she expressed all that happened through years of loss and growth in a single piece, as a showcase of her journey. Though it is one unified piece, you have to remember the 350 hand sculpted birds, the handmade, bent, manipulated and built trees she formed.
The labor intensive and intimate process she underwent probably brought back sensitive topics, but for her, this is her artistic release or outcome to what she’s been trying to say for so many years.
Thank you so much to Betsy for sharing such extraordinary work as well as speaking with me and sharing photos of your interpretation of such an impactful piece.
Until next time…!