11 July 2008

Art As Healing

Ted's cancer news in previous post opened up a whole lot of natural and creative ways I have simplified my once harried life. For years, I integrated self-support programs and organizations in the art and community space I managed. I always connect the creative spirit to the collective consciousness found in a nourished body and mind.

So in between mounting changing art exhibitions and conducting art workshops, I accommodated self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, New Beginnings (drug therapy discussion group), AIDDA (which stands for Anxiety, Insomnia, Depression and Drug Addiction of Max Ricketts), and various fora on alternative healing, green programs on recycling and natural lifestyle (providing weekly organic market), and supported the expatriates program by providing a free venue and program management for them within the healing energy of contemporary art. While these community programs thrived and became relevant to their individual members and the community at large, the art community and their artistic vision have stagnated.

I recommended the closure of that art space in 2004 because I do not see "art" anymore. What the space provided are opportunities for creative and derivative works to gain entry in the art market instead of transcending vision and refining the craft. It has become a marketplace, not just of ideas but of commercial works hungry for patronage. I figured a sound curatorial perspective can still be harnessed even without the expensive space. Which is why I still managed art programs like exhibitions and workshops including community programs like the self-help groups on different sites.

I still accept invitations for volunteer work using art therapy and I try to integrate art therapy modules to most of my workshops especially for children. The sessions I designed were fun, creative and educational while at the same provide the necessary tools for anybody to link to their inner selves and resolve conflicts and confusion of the outside world by working within.

It is a pretty complex idea, but art, or the creative medium, is the best form of therapy for relieving pain and provide natural way of healing. When people turn to writing (diaries, journals and yes, even blogs!), drawing (doodles provide insight to emotions), painting/coloring, forming (and yes, sculpture and ceramics!), music (singing or listening to music), dancing (the inner dance is one of the best module I have seen!), acting (you do not have to perform on stage or do theater to act out your feelings) . . . .

On my part, I discovered and attuned to my creative spirit at an early age. Even before I was of school age, I used art for play, discovery, healing and inner work. Art allowed me to resolve my fears and confusion and made me understand people more. Art was such a fun, regenerating activity and therapy which became part of my life until I became an adult. Aside from the visual art media, I enjoy singing and learning the inner dance. Yoga helps a lot.

I am also now reviving my script. I lost it from years of using technology. While it is convenient and handy, technology reduced my handwriting to a series of ugly lines. My signature, although respected by institutions like banks, etc. does not truly represent me. So I am back to writing again. And hoping to resume my beautiful script taught in school.

I have always designed and re-designed (renovated) my space, my furniture and furnishings, clothes and accessories. I am constantly finding ways to recycle junks into creative, functional accessories. My small, cramped working space were teeming with "works in progress." People would often ask me why I do not go public with my works. But I work for myself and I create for myself and for things I use and needed in my environment.

I admire people who approach their craft as a way to refine their creativity and transform that creativity into a heightened form of self-expression. I see it often in literary and the performing arts. Very rarely in the visual arts that went public.

When the creative spirit is nourished well,
great and real art thrive and become relevant
not only to the creator but also to the audience. . .

"If we, all of us, had movie cameras
and tape recorders and silkscreen,
if we designed our own furniture,
shaped our glassware,
wove our tapestries,
set our own type,
we might knit up the raveled sleeve of self.
The rush of (a)esthetic theories upon us
while we lie numb under the machines
has divided us from out experience
has stylized our responses
we do not understand,
but attitudinize.

the self-shaping of privacy,
the health-giving labor,
could be our way out . . ."

- John Leonard