Written by Lizzie, Art Therapy master’s student
I have been pondering on how to tackle this interesting Art Therapy project involving social community of international students at the University of Haifa. Given the broad and challenging topic of trauma for this year I have been exploring which angle to take and what to focus on. What has been continuing to fascinate me is the power of resilience and how one reacts to trauma, a sort of rebirth of the Self with new inner strength, more awareness and empowerment. There is a transformation taking place: moving forward from trauma and going back to the world, the community and the social/private life. Cultivating resilience through creative practices of expressive arts therapy allows fostering strengths (Malchiodi, 2008: 2011). “Trauma-informed art therapy is based on the idea that art expression is helpful in reconnecting implicit (sensory) and explicit (declarative) memories of trauma and in the treatment of PTSD “(Malchiodi, 2003).
Thus for me the aim of this project is the creation of a mural/large canvas where people will interact and contribute with their creative expression to create something special honoring the important stage of overcoming different trauma reactions, following the positive outcomes and changes due to resilience. I would like to focus on resilience as the key element for successful recovery and reintegration of the individual into social and personal context.
I plan to interview people from the International School focusing on some aspects of past traumatic experiences, leaving the freedom to tell their story how they want, leaving out personal information. The aim is to create a collective puzzle focusing on emotions, feelings and interactions celebrating resilience.
While the search quest is roughly laid out, I will let my intuitive response to interviews guide my creative process and organize collaboration accordingly. According to the findings, I will collect ideas and free associations, converging them into a sketch for the mural. I hope that a sort of “blanket” will tell stories, focusing on emotional responses to trauma and how resilience enables recovery and reintegration into reality frames of surroundings. Once I have a rough sketch I plan to play around the huge canvas and decide on the moment, following the flow which direction to go.
I would like to initiate the painting, and then create different dialogues among creative contributions who will work together on the canvas. It is going to be a group art therapy project. It would be interesting to document the progress and process of participants if they will allow it. The artwork, but most importantly the process, will be an expressive contribution to the Expressive Arts Therapies Department at the University of Haifa and the focus on art therapy as a multimodal healing modality.
The next stage will be the sketch and creative process in the making! Stay tuned!