Sunday afternoon on Plaza Santo Domingo is always a lot of fun – as if all of the happenings there are a complex presentation of Performance Art. There are craftspeople who make and sell jewelry, wooden sculptures, rebozos (shawls) and huipiles (women’s traditional blouses) and much more displaying their wares on tables and in tents.
Often there are processions that include bands with musical instruments, shouts, and song. As I walked around the plaza, I noticed these public art presentations on the walls made by graphic artists. It looked like they were prepared as transfers that were applied to the cement surfaces.
On Sunday, there was also much dancing and celebration. I share it with you here:
In Oaxaca, food too is art. Cuisine is informed by ancient indigenous traditions and rituals and is made with local ingredients. To me, the chocolate cultivated and prepared here is among the most delicious in the world: chocolate drinks are prepared hot or cold and made with hot water or hot milk.
Mole, a traditional Mexican “sauce” made from a multitude of ingredients ground together including nuts, chocolate, coffee, and seeds is especially delicious here. It comes in different colors that vary according to the ingredients included: black, brown, red, yellow, and green and served with a variety of poultry and meats.
The presentation of food is art as well, whether in the market, or on the plate in a restaurant or in someone’s home. I have been having a great time eating my favorite dishes again, and finding new ones too. My new ritual “splurge” is arriving in the market in the afternoon when women from the towns that surround Oaxaca city arrive to sell their bread. My favorite: rolls filled with Oaxacan chocolate and cinnamon! Each woman personalizes her recipe and calls out to the customers in the market announcing what she offers that day. I love the colors, smells, and sounds of the market!
Another food adventure is the “Menu del Dia” or menu of the day. In my hotel, the Oaxaca Real, it includes a soup, a plate such as the one above, and a dessert like flan or Tres Leches cake, all for about $5!!
Visiting one of my favorite places, El Centro de las Artesanias one block from my hotel I was drawn again to the handmade kites I saw there during my last visit to Oaxaca. I remember their “faces” and that they seemed to be ephemeral beings that could magically float up into the sky. Looking more closely at the surface work this time, I could see that each contained a narrative, that each one told a story.
I also took in the richness of the textures – of the paper and the complexity of the materials used in the surface work. I hope to be able to study with this teacher too.
On Sunday, February 5, I went to the Centro de la Artesania ( Traditional Craft Center) to shop, and found that there would be a Mask Making Workshop the same afternoon. I finished the activities I had planned and returned in time to join the group.
Our teacher was Pedro Mendoza, an artist and mask maker from the town of Trinidad de Viguera. He brought two fellow artists from their community studio to help us learn about the mask making art form. He told us about his work and the use of the masks in rituals and celebrations in his town.
We began by learning to make a base for the mask: a beginning form without details like the forehead, eyebrows, nose, and lips. Next we learned how to use the newsprint material, tearing pieces and coating them with adhesive and forming them in pieces to sculpt the face.
I learned about symmetry in the “face” I created, and how to add the details so that the face would express what I desired. I worked to build in the eyebrows, nose, lips, and ears. After my mask dries, I will paint it. Here is a photo of my mask in progress:
I look forward to visiting Pedro and the other artists in their Trinidad de Viguera studio in the coming weeks.
I will be in Oaxaca, Mexico from February 3 until March 1, 2017. It is my goal to post each day sharing the abundant forms of artistic Expression here. Today (after recovering from a long journey complicated by an emergency landing by our Delta jet in another Mexican state), I ventured out into Oaxaca City, a place where as a practicing artist, I feel very much at home. On my way to the market, I encountered the artists participating in the event, “Casa Grafica”. Artists from 12 collective studios known a “talleres” and also 7 independent graphic artists joined forces to occupy a n historic two story building a few blocks from the Zocalo and install their work on its walls.
The event, created by La Comision (email@example.com) took place over 2 days, on February 3rd and 4th. Works presented included prints on paper of varied sizes, posters, designs on hats and tee shirts, and book covers. Critiques of politics and culture informed and inspired the works. Experiencing “Casa Grafica” was a wonderful way to begin my month’s sojourn in Oaxaca!
In September, 2016, I travelled to Cartagena, Columbia to participate in the South American Psychoanalytic Association Conference (FEPAL). When the conference ended, I stayed an extra week to explore. In conversations with local people, I learned about current concerns: the peace negotiation and signing of the peace agreement and also about work around identity in communities of African descent. Riding the bus, I saw huge photographs that were portraits of Columbians of African descent with the caption, “Negro es Lindo”. (“Black is Beautiful”).
When I travel in Latin America, I like to experience the ritual of the Mass in diverse communities. My first Sunday in Cartagena, I was directed to a church in the Getsemani neighborhood. There I found a community enlaced with buildings covered by elaborate artistic expressions. I returned to the neighborhood several times to take the artistic Expressions in. Much of the imagery on buildings was about identity and representations of the Self. Other images seemed to spring forth from deep places in the imagination.Works were made with paint and even with collaged pieces attached to walls.
Here I share images of the Public Art in Getsemani:
While reading the DSM-5, I experienced many different emotions and contemplated why so many complex processes were all neatly organized into one publication. As an Expressive Arts Therapy response, I decided to reconstruct the DSM-5. After considering multiple meanings of the words, manual and disorder (see definitions below), I was inspired to physically alter the DSM-5 into a self-revised version that I refer to as the Diagnostic Manual of Disorder (DMD). Included inside the revised copy is a DVD that displays a do-it-yourself guide to making your own diagnostic manual of disorder. The process is demonstrated in my performance art piece below.
done, operated, worked, etc., by the hand or hands rather than by an electronic device.
involving or using human effort, skill, power, energy, etc.
a small book, especially one giving information or instructions.
lack of order or regular arrangement.
breach of order; disorderly conduct; public disturbance.
to destroy the order or regular arrangement of; disarrange.
You can experience my DSM – 5 performance art piece in the video here:
First I must give credit where credit is due. This was not completely and solely an original idea. This creative process was inspired by two visual artists’ work, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and Heather Hanson’s Emptied Gestures. Da Vinci’s pen and ink drawing depicts the cannon proportions, something that is emphasized in this expressive arts process. Hanson’s work explores kinetic drawing through large scale chalk drawing.
This creative intervention takes Hanson’s creative process and elevates it from the floor to the wall to encompass several levels of movement. Incorporating kinetic drawing with other methods of creative intervention, such as yoga, dance, and meditation, present a harmonic balance of artistic and healing processes and product.
The creative process integrates Cathy Malchiodi’s (2015), scaffolding for creative interventions in trauma; reaching out, taking heart, making meaning, and moving on. Participants begin by finding safety through preparing canvas and stretching. The individuals then explores their story through movement and large scale drawing by incorporating yoga, dance, or simple natural gestures, and large chalk drawings. The intervention closes with a meditation and reflection on the process and product created. Using their bodies as a compass, participants create a large scale expressive mandala on canvas.
I call this process Human Compass as it is part drawing, part yoga, part meditation, part Vitruvian man. Unlike typical dance drawing, the canvas does not lay on the ground, but is pinned to the wall. I felt this was a better choice as one could experience more than one level of movement during the telling of their story. One could be very tall and stretched out while at other time it may feel more accurate to be low to the ground and small.
Secondly, one does not need to dance to use this process. Many types of movement can be incorporated in this process. This specific example uses yoga for its proven ability to assist and support traumatized individuals in their recovery (Banitt,2012) . Movement can be used to tell stories, non-verbally, as well as freely express and move energy that lingers in the body.
Each hand is responsible for a piece of charcoal, the piece does not switch from hand to hand. The participant can chose to use both sides of the body at once, or to move each side separately. Constant contact with the canvas is nearly impossible while exploring movement freely. However, the more times the chalk strikes the canvas the more accurate the recording of the movement becomes. Colored chalk, charcoal, and any other mediums that mark canvas or the surface easily can be used.
Many things can be taken from this process. Not only does it use expressive movement and yoga that naturally keep the body and mind connection well, but it also documents that energy movement, giving the individual a physical piece to look at and draw meaning from. This process also emphasizes the body being a tool. One must take care of their body, they must learn to bend, to become flexible, to withstand discomfort to complete beautiful circles and cycles.
This program consists of three foundational Individualized Courses in Multimodal Expressive Arts and a Culminating Proposal Project.
Individually Designed Courses: We engage with the Expressive Arts Theory that informs our work with clients and in our communities in the form of Individually Designed Courses online via Distance Learning format. Courses are planned by students in collaboration with teacher-mentors. Together they select relevant readings and other media resources and create objectives that meet the student’s needs related to personal and professional goals. Students meet regularly with their mentors during the course by phone, email, and Skype. Three Individually Designed Courses are required for the completion of the Certificate in Theories of Multimodal Expressive Arts:
1) Multimodal Expressive Arts Theory and Personal Experience: Foundational Readings and How to Begin Your Personal Expressive Arts Practice,
In this course, you will read and discuss foundational theoretical readings and explore personal experiences of expressive processes in consultation with your mentor and create a final project.
2) Multimodal Expressive Arts work with Groups. I this course you will study and discuss theories of Multimodal Expressive Arts Group Work and process. You will also learn about and discuss the ways Expressive work is accessed in practices, embedded in traditional cultures worldwide.
3) Multimodal Expressive Arts in the Community and Social Justice. Students may elect to take additional Individually Designed Courses based on their personal and professional goals.
Culminating Project: Each student will create a proposal for a project in their home community with the goal of Integrating their Multimodal learning with their specific interests in working with particular populations and or addressing particular community problems.
Costs: “A La Carte” pricing. Students pay for component(s) in which she/he is actively participating.
Individually Designed Courses: $225 each. Each course lasts 3 months.
Culminating Proposal Project: $225. The Project Proposal will be created together
Monthly Mentoring Sessions: One hour per month at no charge for enrolled students. Otherwise, $25 per hour.
Short Program: October 28- November 2 $635 tuition
The short program focuses on the ritual, Dia de Los Muertos. The long program also includes additional workshops in Multimodal and Popular Art Practices and Experiential work in neighboring communities of traditional artisans.
Sample Workshop Activities:
Visit to the Paper-making Collective in San Augustin Etla. We will learn about the process of creating artisanal paper using natural fiber and dyestuffs and see the creations of paper artists. We will have the opportunity to purchase handmade paper for our Expressive projects.
Visit to the artisan community of Zapotec people who are weavers in Teotitlan del Valle. We will learn about their process of making natural dyes, preparing wool and yarn and weaving on the treadle loom and embroidery stitches . In addition to informing our expressive work, these processes are rich metaphors for our psychological and expressive work with our clients – for example, weaving together, transforming by spinning, alchemical mixing and blending to make new colors.
Visits to Food and Craft Markets to shop for foods, flowers, symbols, and craft items for our Multimodal and Expressive projects and activities.
Multimodal and Popular Arts Practices and Experiential Activities informed by the rituals and celebrations of El Dia de Los Muertos. You will learn practices and activities that you can take home to your clients and communities including altar making.
Dia de Los Muertos Collaborative activity with members of a local community.
Visit to a Palenque – the place of the ritual preparation of Mezcal.
Exploration of the ancient ruins and ritual site of Monte Alban and the ritual practices of the Zapotec people.
We will visit Oaxaca’s artisan operated craft cooperatives including the work of jewelry makers, potters, weavers, leather workers, and sculptors. There will be many great opportunities for holiday shopping.
Every day there are public offerings of art: processions, performance art, music, public installations. Oaxaca wraps us in creativity.
The Short Program will provide 30 hours of Multimodal Expressive Arts contact hours.
The Long Program will provide 60 hours of Multimodal Expressive Arts contact hours.
Our hotel cost will be approximately $80 per night for a room with 2 double beds.
The two nights most important nights for Day of the Dead (October 31 and November 1) area bit more expensive. Please be in touch if you might travel because hotel rooms especially for October 31 and November 1 sell out fast.
Please be in touch with questions
For more information
We hope you will join us!! Wendy and El Colectivo Macondo