“Through embodiment we gain a unique way to touch into our darkest primitive instincts and to experience them as they play into the daylight dance of consciousness; and in so doing to know ourselves as though for the first time—in a way that imparts vitality, flow, color, hue and creativity to our lives.” (Levine 2010, pg. 279)¹
Tell us about your daily art project for 2015 – what did it involve and why did you begin it?
Initially I started the project inspired by Gretchen Miller and the Six Degrees of Creativity workshops, as well as by other artists that are engaging in a daily art practice. I continued the project in 2015 because, having never committed to doing anything on a regular basis, I wanted to apply this commitment to the focus on my body and positive change. The 2014 project inspired me in such a positive way, that I hoped it might do the same to approach issues around the body.
The year-long art project was an art-based embodied research in which I wanted to explore the following questions:
- Can a sustained daily project focused on ones expression of the body through creative practice have an impact on the experience of being in the body?
- Can engaging with body image issues through the arts change (and potentially improve) a person’s sense of self-esteem and acceptance?
- What questions/insights/concerns are identified through engagement with the body and creative practice?
- And, finally, what impact can the sharing of the project with others have – can the process be used to develop interventions to work with people struggling with body image, self-esteem, and trauma?
What were the unexpected challenges and delights in the project?
I have grown to love the collage process, however, there were times with this project that I was feeling unmotivated to do the work. I tried to mix it up some, working with different mediums and eventually the bodily forms started to materialize again – taking me back to the form that I originally started with in my previous graduate work.
I found pleasure in ripping up these false goddesses and creating images that felt more healing.
Some of the other challenges were in posting the images to social media. I chose to be subtle with the messages at times and struggled to navigate a very personal project with a social message. Perhaps it caused me to sensor the message, or play it down to not reveal the true feelings behind the work. I also found it ironic that I chose mostly women’s magazines that typically portray the “ideal” body image. I found pleasure in ripping up these false goddesses and creating images that felt more healing. The use of materials is always a concern for me in my work.
What did you personally gain from the project?
The 365 project has contributed to developing a deeper sense of connection to my daily life experience. It has served as a coping skill in its ability to look for the positive in each day’s message and purpose. In this way, I intend to use this process as a way to engage with the embodied experience as a source of enquiry, discovery, and personal change. This speaks to a mindful awareness of being present and guided by ones own instincts through and of the body.
What is creativity to you, and why do you think it’s important to express ourselves creatively?
I believe creativity is a necessity of life. It is my way of breathing into the world. I look at everything through a creative lens.
I believe creativity is a necessity of life. It is my way of breathing into the world. I look at everything through a creative lens. Art has also been a way for me to survive, and to negotiate the challenges that present themselves along the way.
Being creative is a part of life and as humans we have done it since the beginning of time. We can make creative moments in every aspect of daily life from choosing what we will wear, to designing a meal for loved ones.
If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be? / What do you hope to influence or change with your art?
I have always been an activist. In my work, I have an ongoing love of the female form and its intersections with nature. I hope to show others how I see nature and the inherent beauty and learning it holds. My relationship with trees is a metaphor for healing and my greatest goal is to use my artwork to raise awareness of violence against women and girls and to empower them through the arts.
Now you’ve trained to become an art therapist – how do you think being an art therapist and your own personal art making relate?
I have always seen art as a way of healing, so becoming an art therapist is a very natural path for me. Personal art making is a crucial part of self-care. I feel like my identity is an artist first and foremost. Not only do I communicate through art, but I need artistic practice so stay focused, balanced, and alive.
I have recently started a role teaching an undergraduate unit in ‘Multicultural issues in art therapy’. Teaching art therapy is new and exciting for means actually when I was a little girl I said I wanted to be a teacher!
I like that it involves social action, working with women, older people, LGBT and the opportunity to bring contemporyray issues – political and social – into the teaching. I want to do a holocaust project on campus. I have a background in higher education so this feels quite natural for me to be working in a University setting.
See images: 365 Body Project on Flicker
¹”In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” by Peter A. Levine, PhD (2010) North Atlantic Books, Berkley, CA.
About the interviewee
I am nancy
I am daughter
I am black warm rain
I am fast motorcycle
I am fall evening
I am woodsy, exotic, oriental
I am accepting, learning, transforming
I am sensual raven
I am orchid
I am spaghettiOs®
I am daughter
I am nancy