Sunday, April 26, 2009

On altered books and altered lives

Another spread for the Positive Psychology and Art Therapy altered book round robin. It's heading off to Gretchen Miller this week. Can't wait to see what she does with it on her blog!

The art therapist who works with people with eating disorders elaborated a bit on her placement and groups.
" I am always drawn to using the natural world as a source of renewal, connection and grounding in my groups. Recently in one of my Culture Jamming groups I did an experiment with the patients where I had them look at fashion/celebrity/gossip magazines for 10 minutes while jotting down thoughts and emotions, then draw a quick picture of how they felt. Then we did the same thing in response to 10 minutes outside exploring the beautiful grounds - smelling flowers, listening to the birds and gazing out on the trees. I think it was very effective in getting them to recognize the effects of both of these "environments" on their emotional worlds. Not surprisingly, the magazines stirred up jealousy, pettiness, self-condemnation, consumer desire and feelings of inadequacy. Going outside elicited awe, relaxation, beauty, etc. I've also done some groups where we've created spoof ads, looked at the various cultural institutions that profit from female insecurity and looked at cultural messages around femininity.
...the campus is gorgeous. Lots of trees and grass, a gazebo, a pond, etc. I'm interested in the idea of a terrarium! I'd love to even start an outdoor sculpture garden, but I wouldn't know where to begin!"
Now don't her groups sound thought provoking? Wouldn't you like to try something similar in your art journal: art in response to advertising and art in response to the more than human world? Here's my response:

"Often when we look at magazines and get all those negative feelings stirred up, we then blame ourselves for having such primitive feelings. The reality is that the psychologists attached to advertising are as good at their jobs as we are. Maybe better. If you want a mind numbing virtual tour of some frightening material, google applied psychology, consumer psychology, and advertising psychology!

Re: Sculpture garden... perhaps starting with something impermanent, like creating soft sculptures and dolls and doing a photo shoot in "your favorite natural spot" (most soothing, awe inspiring, etc.)."

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