Saturday, June 2, 2007

Art's Transformative Powers

In preparation for teaching "Women, Creativity, and Healing" this summer at Portland State, I have been reading an excellent book. "The Soul's Palette" by Cathy A. Malchiodi . Her book has done much to remind me of why we make art. As part of my livelihood I show and sell my art. This is great fun, but sometimes I get so caught up in the Art World that I temporarily neglect the major reason I make art and love to encourage others to do so. In her book Ms. Malchiodi discusses the healing that can take place through art making whether one considers oneself an artist or not.

She points out that all young children consider themselves able and entitled to create art. It is only when we grow older and subject to criticism from others and then from ourselves, that we doubt our right to add to our joy and the health of the "soul" by making art. Her mission is to facilitate awareness of the emotional and physical benefits we receive from allowing ourselves to make art in a spirit of experimentation and in the honoring of our own style. Some of the documented benefits she lists from creative activities are: stress reduction, improvement of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration; improved mood and outlook; and increased ability to communicate feelings.

Malchiodi talks about how many aspects of life are out of our control. Art making allows us to have an experience within our control and to make meaning out of the events of our lives. Art making can allow the unconscious mind healthy expression, even in some cases, mastery of traumatic experiences. "Images are the midwives between experience and language".

Since I have quoted Malchiodi without permission, I am happy to point out that her book is available from, ISBN # 1-57062-815-7. It's a lovely, encouraging book.

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