Tag Archives: art for healing

Spaces still available in this Saturday’s Write Whole introductory intensive!

Don’t forget — we’ve got one more Saturday intensive coming up this weekend, 12/20, and there’s still room if you’d like to treat yourself to a day of good writing, good food, and good community!

Write Whole: Survivors Write — an all-day writing retreat open to women survivors of sexual trauma
Saturday, December 20, 8:30am-4:00pm.
(Check-in and registration/continental breakfast 8:30-9:00am)
Light lunch also provided.

Location: Writing Ourselves Whole workshop space in downtown San Francisco.

For each of our all-day Saturday writing retreats, we gather in the morning for coffee and some home-baked breakfast, and then write through the rest of the morning. After a break for a light lunch, we keep on diving deep into our work through the afternoon! At the end of the day, we have some conversation about revising and editing our work, and we close by four.

As for all the other writing groups, we will be using the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method. You’ll leave with: a rich body of new creative writing; feedback from your peers about what’s already strong in your new writing; and some thoughts about revising your new work.

The fee for these retreats is $100. Please let me know if you’d like more information or would like to register — send an email to jennifer (at) writingourselveswhole (dot) org, or visit www.writingourselveswhole.org!

Join us!

Podcast Answers – Day 3: Can art heal?

Last Monday I committed to posting longer, more well-thought-out answers to the questions that Britt Bravo posed to me during our Arts and Healing Network podcast conversation a couple weeks ago. Welcome to day three!

3. Do you believe art can heal? Why?

(Whew — this is a big one!)

How alive are you willing to be? Yes, I absolutely believe art can heal. Why? Because it has done so for me, and I watch it work for others.

Let’s start with definitions, because I’m so fond of them.

Heal: My dictionary says it means, first, “to make a person or injury healthy and whole.” A later definition in the list is “to repair or rectify something that causes discord and animosity.”

(and what about a definition of art. Can we look ‘art’ up in the dictionary and trust what the book says? Aren’t there whole branches of study devoted to defining art? Let’s try it anyway. My dictionary first defines ‘art’ as ‘the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works, for example, in painting, music, or writing; beautiful or thought-provoking works produced through creative activity.’ Granted, to truly understand this definition, we’d have to come to an agreement as to what ‘beautiful’ means. But let’s hold off on that and know that we each have our own sense of that part. A later, and interesting, part of the definition is ‘creation by human endeavor rather than by nature.’)

See Pennebaker’s studies of college students at the University of Texas at Houston, who go to the health clinic less frequently after they write expressively about traumatic or difficult experiences. See Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, encouraging a “recovery” of and through creative expression. See even Live Through This, a collection of essays by artists who’ve battled self-destructive urges using creativity and artistic expression.

Trying to say why I think art heals is similar to the struggle folks have had defining art at all – I don’t know exactly why it works, I just know that it does.

The creation of art enacts release, transformation. The exposure to art proposes different ways of thinking, feeling, being in the room/world.

Art makes (a) way. Art is what’s possible, you know? Someone, a brave and engaged poet, said in one of my writing workshops recently, “You can say things n poems you don’t really say in casual conversation.” Music brings a whole new emotional strata to words, story, poetry – or allows the listener an evocative aural experience that’s other than language. Visual art allows for expression of emotion, idea, truth, possibility that’s outside the linguistic realm. We need to get away from words sometimes. Dance, movement, drama: these arts reintroduce us to our/the body…

And so what does it mean to heal? Not to be bleeding. To have the wound grown over, physically mended.

this is your brain on artSeeing/hearing/experiencing artistic expression (poetry, jazz, painting, photography, short stories, dance) often brings up in me the sense that I am not alone, that I am connected to the creator of that work as well as just simply connected to a wider universe outside of myself. The sense that maybe I can be understood, that there are others who “get it.” (as when I read Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina – a healing experience for me as a writer and as a survivor).

Why do I believe art can heal? Because I myself am still alive and functioning – I chalk that completely up to writing. (I’ll say more about this on Friday!)

It is my experience that we heal when we transform a wound/-ing—either physically, through the body’s regenerative capacity, or psychologically, though an alteration in our understanding of an experience, our ability to express it fully (if not concretely), our sense of being heard and understood. All of these contribute to/manifest healing.

Specifically as it relates to writing, I believe that creative writing and freewriting gives all of us access to a new relationship to ourselves through an alteration of our access to language! Artistic creativity can break us out of commonly-used metaphors, the straight-laced language of many workplaces, the saccharine possibilities offered by Hallmark and TV after-school specials. Breaking away from the rules of grammar and sentence structure can leave us feeling a little bit wild and wrong, outside of school, outside of what’s “right.”

This is something I wrote six years ago, in an essay about the uses of metaphor as an erotic, artistic and embodied reconnection with self, for sexual trauma survivors:

“This is about my stepping back into language by swimming away from the abuser’s so-called “logical” sense. This is about a writer whose words fell out of her mouth one at a time, just one at a time, until she thought she had none left. She turned to find them and was met with the blank bright face of silence. Powerful, uncommon metaphor requires attentiveness, a willingness to play, a willingness to risk: all things that those in power seem to wish to squelch in we who are the victims of their abuses. Metaphor can collude with silence, in its occlusion of some aspect of a concept or entity, but it can also be the opposite of silence: speaking truth to power in a fresh and erotic way, which power cannot help but attend to, if even for the instant of metaphorical resolution. And an instant’s all it takes to change the world and ourselves.”

When finding a way to express difficult or marginally-socially-acceptable things (such as sexual trauma or sexual longing), art (its creation and its very existence!) heals in that it provides outlet and inlet, deep risk and safety, camouflage and exposure: it is large, contradicts, contains multitudes, just like us, as Whitman urges & reminds us always.

So? What do you think? Do you agree that art can heal? Why … or why not?

Nov 19: Your words and art are needed!

from http://www.stopcsa.org/talktostop/:

Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc. (Stop the Silence, www.stopcsa.org), in collaboration with Art for Humanity (South Africa) and The Global Lesson Foundation (Canada) and other collaborating organizations (Survivors Healing Center, Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence) request your input for the first annual “Stop the Silence: Talk Around the Clock” marathon to stop the silence about child sexual abuse (CSA). On November 19, 2008 we will start talking and presenting art and information through the Web from people around the world who want to add their work and thoughts to this movement, and we will not stop for twenty-four hours. We can present your work (e.g., we can air a clip of your poetry) or you can present it live through a special Web program that will allow others throughout the world to see and/or hear you.

We need your voice, art, and information.

* We need your voice if you are a survivor, a bystander, and/or a supporter of the prevention of child sexual abuse.
* We need your voice to help celebrate the courageous efforts of past victims, survivors and those who have supported them.
* We need your voice if you are an individual, organization or celebrity who believes that no child, regardless of geography, culture or heritage or economic status, should have to endure any form of sexual abuse.

Let Your Voice Be Heard!!

HOW to get involved?

Click here on the talktostop.com link to upload your on-line abstract and your art, your poetry, your presentations, your dance clips, and/or your plays.

WHAT can you contribute?

We will review submissions and most submissions will be included in the 24-hour period (we will vet for appropriateness). Many different types of information can be submitted. Here is a sampling:

* Art stills (paintings, drawings, sculpture) created by survivors or those who have supported survivors of CSA to be presented during the 24-hour period.
* Art to donate, display in our marathon and to be put on the sell4change auction site. All proceeds will go to further the education and prevention of CSA.
* Poetry, dance and theatre by survivors or supporters of a change in how societies deal with CSA. You can upload a video or audio clip for presentation, or you can submit your work to be reviewed but then present it live within the 24-hour, Nov. 19th marathon.
* If you are a celebrity you can offer your voice and opinion by uploading video clips or monologues about your story, history, experience or view of child sexual abuse. These clips will be aired through the marathon. It is possible for you to present your views live if you so desire.
* Formal presentations (e.g., speaking live from your computer and/or PowerPoints).

Submit your presentation for review and let us know whether you intend it to be shown by you in a live format or presented on our end through an available tape or other materials.

If you are an individual or an organization combating this silent epidemic, we encourage you to upload your presentation regardless of the type of media (e.g., PowerPoint, video clip, audio clip) – note whether you want to present it live or “taped.” We ask that presentation not exceed 45 minutes from start to finish to allow a 15-minute interactive question and answer period. If submitting a presentation, we ask you to identify whether you would like conduct it live or if you would like to pre-record it and let us air it for you.

All presenters will be given an in depth tutorial and manual on how to use the collaboration software developed for The Global Lesson and this online event.