Saturday, June 17, 2006

I'm here in Mississippi

I am in Mississippi with no access to photoshop so blogs will have to wait till I get home again but I am collecting wonderful stories, doing wonderful workshops with some amazing volunteer grandmothers and lots of sweet kids. It is a delight. And everyones contributions of art supplies etc. are astounding so pictures will be coming very soon. Well, next week.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blue Heron Games, Nelson, BC

Monica studying her games.

Do you need therapeutic games for your art rooms? Monica Carpendale and Blake Parker have created brilliant board games for the therapeutic art and / or play room. They are designed to "facilitate the growth of communication skills in educational and therapeutic settings." Blue Heron is concerned with developing materials which are cross-culturally appropriate and sensitive to issues of disability, sexism, race and class. The games may be used with individuals and groups. They provide an opportunity to develop self esteem, social and problem solving skills in the context of education, rehabilitation and/or therapy.

Monica and Blake are the best!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Play, Art, & Health in Nelson, BC.

My little rag doll!

I had a fabulously wonderful and creative time in Nelson, BC! Thank you Monica, Joan and Anni. They really put together an encouraging, inspiring, generous weekend!!!

My personal highlights included Alison Fox's workshop: (Re) Construction and Repair: Hand Stitching as Therapy. I loved her way of bringing out our best work. I had to miss her talk but she's agreed to have a zine about her work of reconstruction and repair!

Corky Evans the MLA for those lucky folks in Nelson gave a kind of inspirational political activism talk. Mostly what I learned was that politicians have a hard time speaking their minds because the media tends to warp and twist things into sound bites and god forbid you ever change your mind about something or make a mistake or worst of all speak the truth. God bless Corky.

We saw a wonderful video: The Self by Blake Parker and his buddy Jude... oh wow!

The Keynote Presentation was by Dr. Arthur Frank, author of The Wounded Storyteller and The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live(my personal favorite book), and a professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary. He is an international presenter lecturing to medical groups and universities. His current work is focused on developing a practice template for narrative medicine; this involves understanding illness/trauma as a series of “dramas” and having questions that initiate storytelling in which the clinician participates in those dramas. I can't wait for this book to come out.

Another very enjoyable Keynote Presentation was given by Janis Timm-Bottos on Constructing Creative Communities: Art, History and Science of Community Art Therapy. She really knows how to use power point and gives a very enjoyable and informative talk! Thanks Janis!

I also enjoyed being a part of a panel on Open Studios. Presented the Open Studios of artists in Mississippi and the idea of using the internet as a kind of open studio. Lots of fun!

Related to the conference or to my piece of it, I was asked in the previous blog, the best way to do the trades with in groups of folks working on artist trading cards. I think it is really important to make sure that people aren't giving away anything that they would rather keep and yet at the same time you want folks to be encouraged to do their best work.

With the art exchange that's done on the internet often you will have a call for atc's of a certain theme. The one that calls the theme will receive everyone's submission and then distribute them so that everyone who made one gets one from someone else. The advantage of being the one calling the theme is they get to choose whose ever they want to keep.
You could replicate this with your groups, letting different group members call a theme. You could explain that this is how it is done with mail art and art exchanges. And if folks make more than one card per theme, they can keep their own favorite card.

You can find examples of art exchanges happening here:

One World

And there was so much more but I have to go pack now. I'll be heading down to Mississippi tomorrow to do puppetmaking with folks who are still without homes from Katrina.

Stay tuned for more inspiration and stories.

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If you'd like to help or contribute art or puppetmaking materials to the Mississippi experience you can click on the tip bucket here or email me.

Thank you jaihn for your generosity!! A little of the UK will be in Mississippi

Artella's latest e-zine.

Studying my latest copy of the Artella zine, Artella 9: THE JOURNEY: DESTINATION & IMAGINATION.
How does Marney do it? Just when I think she has created the ultimate, never-to-be-out-done, marvelously creative zine, and that, sadly, I'll never see another like it, here comes an e-zine that is even more deliciously packed with amazing goodies and delights than the zine before!!! Unbelievable!!! From Zura's Art Journalling, to Deb's Whooping Crone interview, to Marney's interview with THE Danny Gregory (oh my goodness!!!) and everything in between, this e-zine is a "must have" for all of us creative souls! It's so confirming and inspiring! Thank you so much for all your hard work, Marney, it is SO worth it, and I'm just going to have to relax in the understanding that with each future zine things will only get better and better.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Undines and workshop in Nelson, BC.

Undines - (collage of a mermaid created for Martha and Rick Haeseler - original photo by Rick)

I learned a new word yesterday from Adela, a very watery Prospect oriented sort of word "Undines". These creatures are the elemental beings that compose water, etheric in nature, existing within the water itself, and invisible to those with normal vision. But for those with the right kind of vision these beings are reported to be beautiful to look at and are very graceful. They are often seen riding the waves of the ocean. They can also be found in rocky pools and in marshlands. Clothed in a shimmery substance looking like water but shinning with all the colors of the sea, they are closely related to the mermaid.

Now I'm off to Nelson, BC for an Arts and Health conference, I'll be thinking of all my little undines back in Prospect.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

More on forgiveness and letting go...

Thinking more about this practice of forgiveness and the importance of letting go of the things that I don't need anymore; resentment, hurt, hostility, unkindness, and fear. It seems rather difficult and certainly overwhelming.

A wonderful doll artist and friend, Barbara Kobe has been working with the idea of the creating a "God Box" for the things she is ready to let go of. You can write down your worries, memories, pain, and put these things in the God Box. It's a way of turning things over to God (or the Universe, or your Higher Power, or even that still small voice). She has sewn the serenity prayer on the outside.

Barbara Kobe's God Box

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

This seems really helpful. For another version of this idea please see Cre8it instructions and gallery

Good ideas here. Creating a beautiful container would really help with those difficult and overwhelming tasks of "letting go." Thanks Barabara!!!

PS-When you visit Barbara Kobe be sure to download a pdf file of her current healing doll research. It's inspiring.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Forgiveness n. 1: compassionate feelings...

Mail Art from Lore Caldwell

n 1: compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive 2: the act of excusing a mistake or offense [syn: pardon]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

In the last blog entry, I included the above word and definition as being one of those good fairy-god-mother type words that you might need on those long dark nights. While giving this word some thought, an art therapist friend of mine sent me a link to Dr. Fred Luskin's webpage on forgiveness Learning To Forgive.

Dr. Fred Luskin, of the Stanford Medical Center, served as Co-Director of the Stanford-Northern Ireland HOPE Project, working with victims of political violence and is a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation and a Research Associate at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention.

He believes that although discussion of forgiveness used to be the private realm of religion and international politics, people are now willing to discuss forgiveness and its effects on psychological and emotional well-being.

Dr. Luskin defines forgiveness as "giving up all hope for a better past." If we are locked in regret over the past, we have less energy available to live our life right now and we become very guarded and defended and even helpless. This residual bitterness from what remains un-forgiven influences our capacity for happiness in the present.

Forgiveness allows us a fresh start. Whether it's for something really big or something small, it's like a rain coming down on a dusty, parched environment. It clears the air, settles the dust, and helps things grow. At some point, we can say that this awful thing happened, it hurt a lot, yet it's not going to take over our lives. Dr. Luskin believes that that's the choice that's always available. And that's what his writing and interviews are about, offering us that choice. He believes we need more choices about how to respond to difficult situations. He doesn't tell us what choices to make, he just encourages us to add forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and grace to our repertoire. Without having this option, we can easily get stuck in bitterness and revenge.

His website has a list of audio links, so I went to Insight Meditation Group Dharma Talk- 3/02 and listened to the little dharma talk I found there, while I worked on a photoshop collage of forgiveness.

Dr. Luskin also has Nine Steps to Forgiveness from "Forgive for Good" (which I find can be translated into art tasksquite easily. See what I've done in parenthasise below)

1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
(Create an artistic representation about what in the situation is not ok. Share this art with a couple of your art buddies.)

2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else. (Create a representation of yourself feeling better, and hold the intention to allow that to happen.)

3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.” (Take the representation in #2 and put it into a new environment.)

4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years –ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings. (Try creating a representation of yourself in your new environment as seen from a distance.)

5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response. (Create a little book of favorite images, things that reduce stress when you look at them.)

6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life , that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them. (Create a representation of your "unenforceable rules" and set them aside. At some point you may release them, alter them, or transform them in some way. Make them a part of a new work of art.)

7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want. (Create a piece that illustrates what you want. Put yourself in the picture.)

8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
(Create a piece which honors some aspect of the good things in your life.)

9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive. (Create a self portrait as the heroic person you really are.)

Dr. Luskin concludes:
The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Treasure of all sorts...

In Grizedale Forest in the lake district of England a group of sculptors created a whimsy filled, playful trail through the forest. Objects of metal and wood, musical instruments, and bugs & spiders the size of which would strike terror in the most stout hearted, all were tucked away in little corners here and there. There are a couple of pictures in my mac photo album and here. The forest of Grizedale Park is a well-established 'art in the environment' centre, which has been commissioning artists for the past 25 years. There are over 90 sculptures to be seen and up to 10 artists in residence every year to ensure there are always new works in progress.

Now isn't that a friendly idea. Anyone from Nova Scotia Tourism interested?

In northern Wales we discovered a group of artists who had created a treasure hunt helfagelf. From May 17-21 you could travel around 52 art studios, looking for treasure. The arttists work was treasure enough, but five gold rings had been buried in little porcelain clam shells throughout the area, the clues for which were buried in an art book, on their web site and in the art studios themselves.

Now that's an idea for creating energy and fun. Get together with some artist-friends and create a treasure hunt. Can we do this electronically, I wonder?
Any Artella artists reading this post?

One of my favorite Welsh/Irish potters, Claire Curneen, is moving in a marvelous direction.
marvelous adj 1: extraordinarily good; used especially as intensifiers; "a fantastic trip to the Orient"; "the film was fantastic!"; "a howling success"; "a marvelous collection of rare books"; "had a rattling conversation about politics"; "a tremendous achievement" [syn: fantastic, howling(a), marvellous, rattling(a), terrific, tremendous, wonderful, wondrous] 2: too improbable to admit of belief; "a tall story" [syn: improbable, marvellous, tall(a)] 3: being or having the character of a miracle [syn: marvellous, miraculous]Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

What she does with porcelain and the human form is so... extraordinary. There was always a delicate sorrow in her figures and now she's working with saints and angels. The saints have little objects that are symbolic of their miracles or good works or suffering. Saints and angels have touches of gold emerging from wounds and finger tips.
I read "Claire Curneen succour" in which Timothy Wilcox has an essay "Treasure in Earthen Vessels"
He writes about her angels:
"Angels have a more benign role ... their involvement with human charges may occur on a daily, or at least a regular basis. Angels are memsengers, bringers of news, good or bad; they mamy also be fellow travelers, like Raphael, who accompanied Tobias on his journey..."
And about the figures in general:
"...the space that is enclosed is not void, but the location of the greatest riches."

This is what I would like, a Curneen type angel to walk with me and remind me when I need reminding that what is enclosed is not a void, but a treasure of sorts.

And this brings me to the final odd sort of treasure, a kind of insight that arose from that "space that is enclosed" while observing various sorts of relationships on this trip; parents and children, husbands and wives, teachers and students, I began applying what I was seeing to my own life adventure:

1. Children need parents' attention. 2. If they don't get an unhurried, quiet, focussed attention as children, they may tend to continue to look for it as they grow up. (I know this is all very psych 101 but never mind, I'll pursue it anyway.) 3. Suppose instead of looking to others for attention (which appears to be exhausting for the "others" and frustrating for the the one doing the looking) we turn our attention on our own inner life. 4. Through meditation and art making we come to find that we are vessels with all sorts of treasure inside. And that our own attentions are nurturing and sufficient. It's almost like looking inside and finding that internalized "good enough" fairy-god-mother whispering encouragement and succour.

Here are some nice fairy-god-mother words which seem to lighten this human struggle:

n : assistance in time of difficulty; "the contributions provided some relief for the victims" [syn: relief, succor, ministration] v : help in a difficult situation [syn: succor]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

n 1: the comfort you feel when consoled in times of disappointment; "second place was no consolation to him" [syn: solace, solacement] 2: the act of consoling; giving relief in affliction; "his presence was a consolation to her" [syn: comfort, solace]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

n 1: a state of being relaxed and feeling no pain; "he is a man who enjoys his comfort"; "she longed for the comfortableness of her armchair" [syn: comfortableness] [ant: discomfort] 2: a feeling of freedom from worry or disappointment 3: the act of consoling; giving relief in affliction; "his presence was a consolation to her" [syn: consolation, solace] 4: a freedom from financial difficulty that promotes a comfortable state; "a life of luxury and ease"; "he had all the material comforts of this world" [syn: ease] v 1: give moral or emotional strength to [syn: soothe, console, solace] 2: lessen pain or discomfort; alleviate; "ease the pain in your legs" [syn: ease]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

n 1: the expression of approval and support [ant: discouragement] 2: the act of giving hope or support to someone [syn: boost] 3: the feeling of being encouraged
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

n 1: compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive 2: the act of excusing a mistake or offense [syn: pardon]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University