Recently, I had a solo show at Dominican Center which personally brought up some things for me as well. This would be my third solo show and while I have had art pieces shown in other gallery spaces I hadn't spent my energy in showing my art in a while for many reasons including two of the following I will be explaining. For those who have known me since my childhood they know I am artistic and creative. Those who have met me more recently into my adulthood may know I'm creative but not artistic.
I chose to hide aspects of myself from others because I found that people wouldn't come see me as an art therapist because people shared they felt I would judge their art. Even though in art therapy it is not focused on the product. Then I had others who would flip through my visual journal which is personal like a visual diary and make comments such as, "O looks like you're the one that needs help" or "I can see where you made lots of mistakes here."
It felt vulnerable and judged.
So I chose who got to see my art and which pieces.
The truth is I don't mind showing my art it helped me to have courage, learn boundaries, and also the only opinion that matters to me when it came to my art was my own. In art therapy we don't necessarily focus on making "pretty art" and yes it can come out aesthetically pleasing too. I rather think all the art that comes out of the studio and through I Light's services tends to be beautiful for the expression and process created along with the product but of course I'm coming from a biased opinion.
At Mount Mary University's grad program I remember learning from Bruce Moon -when asked if I am an artist or art therapist the answer is YES. I thought I understood this and when to bring in my own art as appropriate to the therapeutic relationship and goals but I don't believe I understood what he really meant by this until I received an email message:
"My son was inspired by your artwork in the art gallery. He stood at each piece for a good few minutes saying, “How does she DO that?! She’s so good! I want to do something like that someday!” In fact, he was so inspired, he went home and make his own rendition of one of your watercolor pieces. I attached a picture of it to this email in case you wanted to see it. I know I may be bias since I’m his mom, but I think it’s pretty good for a 10 year old."
It got me thinking of another class in grad school where the theme was on being good enough and this story was one that hit me in the gut.
By just being and owning my creative identity that was enough to inspire someone. I suppose I forgot the power of being me.
Naturally, you can see the his art is so colorful he really captures the essence of the bright colors and the mountains too. Of course I responded sharing the similarities in style, medium of choice and subject matter and received this:
"I read to him what you said about his piece capturing the essence of the colors and mountain and that we’re welcome to go to your studio and he was BEAMING with pride and joy! His face lit up and he said “the artist said that? She liked my art??”
So if you see this Ethan-Yes I didn't like your art I loved your art! You have a keen eye for observation and noticed the details while being patient and not letting your colors become muddy.
Similarly, I recall in January while sitting by myself at Pappy and Harriet's painting at the bar next thing I knew a little girl came up next to me and within minutes we were painting together. I learned how her mom being very creative was trying to encourage her daughter to create and she refused and she was intrigued by me. We quickly went from strangers to friends. The power of being yourself may seem so often underestimated when in fact it can be influential.
Inspiration and curiosity are two aspects in life that keep me creative and my cup full and sometimes as we get older tend to lose this in the shuffle of life. We can take the things that surround us and play with them within our own set of boundaries and context and from there be able to create something new and different. Our world needs to run on inspiration from one another. We need to stay inspired, stay curious, play and create.
You can read about the author here: Leara on Psychology Today
If you need help getting inspired check out our Open Studio program and other programs on our website here: I Light LLC