WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
In my 20 years as an art therapist, I have invariably viewed art therapy as a way to encourage self-expression and creativity for the purpose of telling one’s story. This might be in the context of an individual therapeutic relationship or in an effort to foster relationships, build connections, and find community. Over the years my understanding of the potential of art therapy has deepened based on the community-based work that has defined my practice. I believe that art therapy also provides a process for sharing lived experience in an effort to bring attention to the ways we as a society marginalize and repress individuals and groups who are deemed as other or less than. I view the act of bringing the experiences of our marginalized community members to life through art and story as one of resistance to silencing, and I view the act of making visible the strengths and raising the voices of individuals and groups who experience discrimination and invisibility as an act of empowerment. My current professional practice can be described as social practice. I work with young people and families in school and community contexts, providing direct programming and professional development to encourage the use of art to foster social-emotional development, promote sociocultural awareness, and build community.
WHAT IS SOCIAL PRACTICE?
Artists working in the medium of social practice develop projects by inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, institutions, or a combination of these, to create participatory art that exists in both traditional and non-traditional spaces. Artists working in social practice art co-create their work with a specific audience or propose critical interventions within existing social systems that inspire debate or catalyze social exchange. Social practice art work focuses on the interaction between the audience, social systems, and the artists through making, collaboration, social discourse and community activism.
As an artist and art therapist I bring not only an educational and aesthetic approach to working with young people, but also a therapeutic lens to designing and implementing projects that are developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse backgrounds and abilities, equitable in access, sensitive to emotional and psychological concerns, and trauma-informed.