Faculty Guest Blogger: Dr. Ashley Hartman
Ashley Hartman: In July of 2019, I facilitated a Japanese Suminagashi Water Marbling workshop at the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) Inaugural International Art Therapy Practice/ Research Conference in London hosted at Queen Mary University. Fifteen international art therapists participated in this session to learn the technique and to apply the method to art therapy with a diverse client base, ranging from palliative care settings to work with children and adolescents. I was inspired by these art therapists from the UK, Israel, Greece, and Asia who were interested in applying these methods to art psychotherapy practice in their prospective settings.
Suminagashi is a practice that incorporates Japanese philosophy that emphasizes the value of imperfection, nature, and abstraction.
Suminagashi is a practice that incorporates Japanese philosophy that emphasizes the value of imperfection, nature, and abstraction. It looks at the world metaphorically to emphasize the beauty in the present moment. Artists paint with ink on the water’s surface. As the material displays unique forms on top of the water, ambiguous and imperfect formulations occur. The pattern is never permanent. After capturing the patterns through printmaking on various forms of paper, the artist is able to delicately hold a memory of the unique form that can never be replicated in the same way.
My interests in Suminagashi emerged from living in South Korea and observing calligraphy practices as well as other eastern methods of working with ink. I also worked with Suminigashi in medical art therapy practice in inpatient hospitalization settings with a variety of my own clients who positively responded to the intense visual stimuli.
In fall of 2018, I explored my own individual responses to working with the process. I created a video of the Suminagashi process as well as rice paper panels that were showcased in the Biennial Faculty Art Exhibition at Marywood University. These pieces were titled Tolerating Ambiguity and Embracing Ambiguity.
My preliminary research, going forward, will focus on the neuro and physiological influences of using Japanese Suminagashi in the context of art therapy practice. Specifically, I will investigate the possible benefits and impact it may have on anxiety, attention, relaxation, and frustration tolerance for various individuals.