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
Day 1: Arrival in the City of Leon via Bajio Airport in Guanajuato State. Transfer to hotel. We will spend our first day exploring Leon and especially the creative, fanciful, and imaginative artisanal shoes and boots that are made there for the purpose of adorning the foot, one of the symbols that will inform our work creative, Expressive, and psychical work in Mexico. The foot connects us to the earth – Divine Mother Earth, and grounds us in relation to each other and the other life forms of the planet. The feet “stand for” who we are, and how we represent ourselves to others including our intentions and what is most important to us in life. Feet can be a sign of humility (as Christ washed the feet of the disciples and allowed a woman identified as prostitute to wash his own) and are also related to the erotic and a sexual symbol, the shoe – as we will see in the sculptural forms of the “tacones” (high heel) shoes and “Chihuahuense” boots offered in the streets of Leon. We will have time to visit shops selling footwear, clothing ,and jackets and if we wish place special orders that speak to “true” identities and authentic Selves to be picked up before our departure on our last day. Welcome dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Breakfast in hotel. Continued exploration of Leon neighborhoods. Afternoon departure for Mineral de Pozos. Check into our Pozos hotel. Dinner in hotel or nearby location.
The region of Mineral de Pozos was first inhabited by indigenous groups including the Chichimecas, Huachichiles, Copuces, Guaxabanes, and Pames. The region was first colonized by Jesuit priests whose goal was to evangelize and Christianize the indigenous people. Once the Spanish realized the rich deposits of silver, mining was the primary activity in Pozos. When mining ceased, Mineral de Pozos became a “ghost town”. Recently it has become occupied and inhabited again. It is a town of spectacular ruins and beautiful light (if you are a photographer or a painter). Many current residents are artists and artisans. You can get a glimpse of Mineral de Pozos in the film made there, “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself” featuring actor Antonio Banderas.
Day 3: We will experience the ritual of Temazcal led by a practitioner/specialist from the Chichimeca culture who lives in the community. Temazcal is an ancient ritual, rooted in the traditions of the original habitants of Mesoamerica. Temazcal is a ritual of cleansing and purification, and is also offered to promote healing. In the afternoon, we will learn from our teacher about traditional indigenous musical instruments and create some of our own. Practicing rhythms we will “get into our bodies”. In reflection on the experience, we will practice journaling using words and images, and movement. Dinner together with artists from the community. Overnight in Pozos Hotel (center of town).
Day 4 We will spend the morning and afternoon in the town of Mineral de Pozos. We will reflect on the beauty of the architectural ruins and the extraordinary quality of the light through photography, drawing and painting, movement, and writing. We will visit the studios of artists and craftspersons who make traditional indigenous musical instruments such as the ocarina, and will receive inspiration for out work with clay in Guanajuato. We will learn and participate in traditional indigenous dance. We will work multimodally together with other mediums and processes in the format of the Expressive Arts. Transfer to our San Miguel de Allende hotel.
Day 5: We will practice Embodied Imagination Dreamwork in the morning. In the afternoon, our dreamwork will inspire us as we create using traditional Popular Art Practices and materials making Nichos. Dinner in San Miguel and Transfer to our San Miguel de Allende Hotel.
Day 6: Transfer to Guanajuato. We will explore the city of Guanajuato, originally inhabited by the Chichimeca, Jonaz, Otomi, Nahuatl, Purepecha and other indigenous peoples. In the 1500’s, Spanish colonists began mining silver establishing mines and importing African people as slaves as a source of free labor. In contemporary times, Guanajuato is an art rich city. The annual Festival Cervantino presents theatrical works and dance. On weekend evenings, University Students parade through the streets playing Medieval instruments and singing. We will visit Diego Rivera’s childhood home, now a museum, art galleries, and also “El Museo de las Momias” (the mummy museum), an example of the Mexican culture’s fascination with death and the other world. We will begin the process of preparing to make our mole – shopping in the market for ingredients: chiles, chocolate,and nuts.
Day 7: The oven has been likened to the womb with respect to its transformative powers. In the oven, raw material (clay, dough, glass, metal) is changed to become something new. Taught by a traditional Mexican artisan we will will learn bread making. We will mix dry and wet ingredients to prepare the dough, kneading it into our bodies as we focus on our hopes and intentions as the dough moves through our hands. We will sculpt it as an Expressive material, creating the forms that arise from inspiration within ourselves. As it rises we will realize the power of our intentions to create something that grows and becomes greater in the process of making. And as we wait, we will practice movement, voice work, improvisation and storytelling. We will wait as it is transformed in the womb-oven, and then we will share what we have made and baked with each other. We will also save a loaf in order to participate in a ritual designed to call forth our dreams- also called a “dream incubation’ among depth psychology dreamwork practitioners.
Dreaming Bread: To make Dreaming Bread, make one round loaf. As we knead the dough we will concentrate of the kind of dreams we want to have. When baked, we will cut the bread into three pieces and take a bite out of each piece. The remaining pieces are put under the pillow at night as long as we do not speak between eating the bread and sleeping we will have the kinds of dreams we hope to have.
Day 8: Making Mole and Ocarinas: We will tell stories and explore the archetypal aspects of totem animals, (the animals with whom we have a special relationship) and discern that which one resonates with us and with whom we have an affinityand a special felt relationship. Led by a traditional practitioner, we will work with clay, creating a personal ocarina, a traditional indigenous wind instrument. We will fire it in a womb-oven. We will mix and then cook our mole ingredients alchemically, stirring Expressively as the elements are transformed into a delicious creation. For a preview of the process of alchemical cooking and emotional expression, view the film Like Water for Chocolate, based on Laura Esquivel’s book. Dinner together as a group.
Day 9: We will finish decorating our Ocarinas and will also participate in Traditional Mexican Popular Art Mask Making and other practices. We will produce a “Dinner Theater” as a group as we create a play via improvisation as we assume the personas of the characters represented by our masks.
Day 10: Transfer to the town of Cortazar, Guanajuato for a day of Multimodal Expressive Arts and Popular Arts Activities with members of the Cortazar community. Transfer to Leon Hotel.
Day 11: Final day in Leon for shopping, picking up special orders. Farewell Dinner.
Our teacher Jesus Pastor taught us about traditional Mexican Popular Art practices that have an Expressive component. For example, Papel Picado, the Mexican Popular Art Practice by which complex designs are cut into tissue paper was originally a Shamanic meditative practice through which the practitioner cut designs into traditional Amate (bark) paper while praying to help a family with a problem and bring everything into balance. We learned that we may offer this practice to our clients, giving them the opportunity to cut a design into paper with an intention and a meditative attitude and also to experience the surprise as the paper is unfolded.
Like Kahlo, Olin used her art to communicate her lived experiences. She painted self portraits and also documented her life with her family and in her community as she experienced it. Nahui was also a woman whose behaviors may be considered to be exceptional or unusual, or even to evidence symptoms of mental illness. As an adult woman living in Mexico City at that time, eccentricities may have also conformed to a non-conformist bohemian culture where women pushed boundaries related to gender roles, gender identity, and sexual orientation and expressed nascent feminist inclinations.
Alternately, her childhood history of nudist practices (enjoying nude horseback riding as a child) and later working as a nude model for fine art photographers, her passion for the sensual and for highly emotional expressions, might have lead a “modern” clinician to offer a diagnosis: perhaps histrionic personality disorder or bipolar disorder. Her mastery of the use of metaphor and the form of the poem as a young child and her rapid acquisition of the French language when her family lived there during her primary school years would qualify her as intellectually gifted.
For Olin, drawing, painting, and poetry offered an opportunity for self expression. She published an autobiography including drawn self portraits when she was only ten years old. As we consider her art and how she used it to depict and express the experiences of her life, a question of “disorder or not” is not important.
That she used words in poems, photographic compositions of her body made before the camera lens, and drawn and painted representations to express her lived experiences is what is significant.
Although she spent the last years of her life alone and only in the company of her pet cats, she taught art each day in a neighborhood children’s school.
Most of Olin’s artwork is owned by private collectors. In my research, I have found that one piece is held by the Frida Kahlo Museum, and one by the Diego Rivera Museum. I hope that we will be able to view examples of Olin’s work during our visits to these museums during our Workshop in Mexico City.
Looking forward to our Multimodal Expressive Arts in Mexico City Workshop! If you have not already joined us, there is still space to Register. All of the information is at our website and blog:
Here, I share links about Olin’s work and her life. Below is an image of her biography researched and written by Adriana Malvido. If you read Spanish, I highly recommend it. Even if not, there are many beautiful historical photographs and images of Olin’s artwork. Till Mexico City…..Wendy and Marco
P.S. Please share with friends and colleagues! We still have spaces available if someone would like to join us.
In 1998, when I taught at Howard Luke Academy in Fairbanks, Alaska (named after Athabascan Elder Howard Luke), I developed a Native American Literature class, the first in the Fairbanks School District. I felt a need to offer a class in which the students could see themselves reflected in what they read. One of the books I used was N. Scott Momaday’s In the Presence of the Sun(1991). Momaday is proud of his Kiowa Plains Indian culture. In one section of the book he writes a series of sixteen shield stories. He explains the importance of shields to Plains Indian cultures. He speaks of the shield as protection, of course, but he also writes that a shield is “medicine” (p. 73).
The shield bears a remarkable relationship to the individual to whom it belongs. Indeed the relationship is so immediate, so intimate as to be virtually impossible to define. In a real sense, the Plains warrior is his shield. It is his personal flag, the realization of his vision and his name, the object of his holiest quest, the tangible expression of his deepest being. In bearing his shield he says, “My shield stands for me, andI stand for my shield. I am, and I am my shield!” (p. 74)
In the book, Momaday has written sixteen shield stories. He has specific directions for how they should be shared. He reminds his readers that the sixteen stories are four fours, and four is a sacred number (p. 75).
And the shields are mediations that make a round of life. The shield stories are meant to be told aloud, either to oneself or to another or to others, on eeach day for sixteen consecutive days . . . The stories ought to be told in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is close to the horizon, and always in the presence of the sun. (p. 75)
So for sixteen days in March of 1998 (late March and April and sometimes May are breakup time in Fairbanks; lots of sun but still cold with hints of spring), we went outside, stood in a circle, and read one of Momaday’s shield stories each day. We talked about the power of each of the stories, and each student discussed their favorite one. It was then that they were ready to create their own shields and their shield stories.
Lacking buffalo hide, I purchased a bunch of muslin and some embroidery hoops. The students had to cut their own muslin to fit the size of the hoop they chose (the hoops were in two different sizes; in Fairbanks back in 1998, before all the big box stores arrived, I had to take what I could get in local stores; online shopping wasn’t very prolific). After cutting their muslin and fitting it onto the hoops, they created their design on paper. Then they transferred their designs onto the muslin with pencil. The next step was painting the design. I allowed about two weeks for this project; the painting was time consuming and I did not want to rush the process. After the shields were completed, each student named his/her shield and wrote a story about it, in the same vein as Momaday’s stories.
The students shared their stories and shields with each other, and then we hung them in the hallway. I do not remember how I managed to end up with the bulk of the shields, but I am grateful the students gave them to me. Over sixteen years later, they have even more resonance to me than they did back then. I feel blessed to have them, and blessed that I received permission to share some of them here.
I do not have all of the stories, and again, I don’t know why. I am grateful for the ones I have. What I am left with is how powerful the shields and stories are and how the project resonated with the students. I continue to do this kind of work in my classes—including my college classes—and also with the teens I work with in juvenile detention. I have found that even the toughest adolescents will engage in deep inner work if it is presented in a way that touches the profoundly deep, soft part inside themselves—some might call it the soul. I personally believe that everyone wants to be healed. Some just need more help than others in accessing their self-healing abilities. I also believe that even a small project over the short term can plant a seed and make a difference. It can be “medicine.”
The Double Life Shield by John
Once long ago were the star gods, Libra and Scorpio. They were forbidden to be together because Libra was an air god and Scorpio was a water goddess. So each time they saw each other, it was in secrecy.
The star gods’ children were the guardians over the human children born at the same time. The guardians were to keep the humans balanced in their way of earth, air, fire, and water.
With Libra and Scorpio’s secret meetings they conceived a child. Scorpio was frightened at the thought of the other gods finding out. They did all they could
to keep the others from finding out. Then the guardian child was born. The child was born with the markings of both Libra and Scorpio, so the human child that was born with this guardian always had the powers of Libra and the powers of Scorpio fighting for control.
This human child grew up living a double life. That was the only way the guardian could keep the human child balanced.
Julie’s Shield (It is hard to see in the photo, but the buffalo’s eyes are pieces of turquoise.)
“This series of sixteen photographs is the expressive arts component for my final project for PSY/CMH 700, Psychopathology. They represent a very personal interpretation of very specific psychological disorders as described in the DSM. I attempted to match the internal feelings that were conjured by the DSM descriptions of each disorder to the feelings I felt when I spent time taking in each photograph.
All of the photos in this submission are created by moving a camera using various slow shutter speeds. My intent was to use the world as a palette and to imitate brushstrokes with motion. With this technique I attempt to see the unseen–the light that is registering with our eyes as we move our head, but which our brain is constantly interpreting as solid object. Perhaps other living beings see the world more like this?
None of these shots have been “Photoshopped” or cropped apart for some sharpening and light balancing; what you see is what the camera sensor actually “sees”. With experience, I learned how to move the camera to create specific brush strokes with natural and man-made objects. By controlling focal length, focus, shutter speed, rate of motion, and range of motion I can create predictable effects. With practice, I think that a technique can be developed for using the camera much as a painter uses a paintbrush for creating beautiful, unworldly abstracts.”