Yesterday was my last day at the art therapy gig where I’ve been volunteering for over a year. Partly this was because of work commitments changing, but honestly, I had, after a lot of soul-searching and struggling, finally come to the conclusion that art therapy was not the right career path for me (as much as I wanted it to be), and it had run its course for me. Saying goodbye to some of the people there that I’d gotten to know over the year was sad and I will miss them, but it was most definitely time to move on.

I took with me my folder of work that I’d done in the course of the year (the volunteers did art too). In looking over them today I discovered that I must have left some of them behind somewhere in the room, which does make me a bit sad, but one of the things that art therapy taught me as an artist is not to get too attached to your work. Yes, the point of art therapy is partly that your artwork is an extension of your thoughts and feelings and therefore deeply personal, but at the same time, the art therapy environment is one that fosters experimentation, anything-goes openness, so a lot of the work I did was just to try out media and shapes and ideas, and were not meant as masterpieces or serious ‘works of art’ and therefore less precious in the long run. I do wish I had some pictures of some of them though.

So here’s a collage I put together of the ones I do have, so I could see all the works side by side. I notice some common themes – peacocks, volcanoes, swirls and circles. I’m sure there are some deep Freudian things to be said about those – but I am definitely not a Freudian, hence my inability to be an art therapist, apparently… The heavy emphasis on psychoanalysis was a stumbling block for me that I just couldn’t get over – I take a much more person-centred and maybe an occupational therapist’s sort of view of AT. For me, the symbolism and insights have to come from the artist, not from the therapist. And for me, the process of doing is just as, if not even more important, than what the artwork says about someone’s inner psyche. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, after all. So yes, not meant for art therapy, apparently. But it was a good experience and I learned some things about myself and other people and art itself.

Feel free to psychoanalyse my work, btw, I’d be interested to hear what people think these say about me, even if I may have different ideas… 😉

A year of art therapy

A year of art therapy

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