I got a wonderful question yesterday via email from an art therapist working with people who are suffering with "eating disorders". She was wondering if I had any ideas for how to create an art therapy group around the theme of learning to love the more-than-human world we live in. She has started a group called "Culture Jamming" that takes aim at the dominant culture's messages about women, body and social expectations, but that is an art group about human "culture" and its effects on us. So my thinking would be why not alternate sessions between the "Culture Jamming" themes and themes having to do with environmental psychology, healing gardens, healing environments, nature based celebrations, and nature based art directives. I would do anything to get us out into the more-than-human world in order to fall in love again. Do you remember being a tiny kid, mesmerized by clouds, bugs, trees and dirt?
I would look at the Spiral Garden website for ideas on this. These folks are marvelous! They have annual reports filled with artful photography and fantastic ideas for integrating art, play, and nature, free for the downloading. These annual reports describe the outdoor day camp for the children of Bloorview Kids Rehab and the neighborhood (in Toronto). Children from 6 to 12 with and without disabilities explore, learn, garden, and play together. The staff and volunteers foster an inclusive community for themselves and the children they work with. They attend to the whole person, the whole garden, and the whole community.
If you are interested in the concept of creating healing environments using the arts, I'd look at Healing Environments, a beautiful website filled with lovely, soothing, marvelous ideas. These folks started out working with hospice and end of life issues, but it sure seems to me that we could all benefit by learning to create healing environments.
For some very interesting ideas which could be converted to art tasks see Joanna Macy's website. For example if you keep an art journal or visual journal try journaling around these open ended sentences:
1. Some things I love about being alive in Earth are…
2. A place that was magical (or wonderful) to me as a child was….
3. A person who helped me believe in myself is or was….
4. Some things I enjoy doing and making are….
5. Some things I appreciate about myself are…
As I started to think about these themes, I realized that all of this could be the subject of quite a few blog entries and maybe even an on-line course! Hmmm. Using art to reanimate our connection with the planet... I like it!