Sunday, May 3, 2009

1. Art Therapy at UC Davis Children's Hospital

Art therapy in the pediatric setting not only helps children to cope with the hospital experience, but also allows them to take an active part in their own healing. Art therapy places the value on art as a tool and not as a fine art product. During individual sessions and the daily art group, children engage in a wide variety of mediums and techniques which are both developmentally appropriate, enjoyable and open to the entire family, thus allowing families a place to participate in normal activities.


I'm trying to find a new thread for my work. Last I left off, I was thinking about how to combine the very rough paper quilting with the more sophisticated quilting that I've learned in fabric. The very complicated twists and turns that are possible in cloth are incredibly seductive.

Well, that was interesting and trying to use the panels to carry that out on was a good idea--but time and migraines have slowed all that down. Now, I'm trying to pick up that thread and I'm stuck--or trying to find a thread that will untangle the mass of yarn, the yarn being the mass of possible projects.

As I've turned the loose bundle of yarn over and over in my mind, several thoughts have come to my mind:

1) a small piece of stitched fabric: perhaps about 5" x 8" sewn from of faded stripes of color pieced together.
The references: a shirt that I remember my mother wearing when I was perhaps 5 or 6. the stripes of wide and colored black, watermelon pink, teal and white. This made a deep impression on me, the stripes etched deeply into my visual memory. the second reference is Joseph's "coat of many colors" a reference from Bereshit (or Genesis). I've always found those simple words to be tremendously evocative.

2) The most obvious thread is the migraine, a condition that is trailing along with menopause for me. It's a provocative rather than evocative subject, something I'd rather not deal with but have to. I feel the way I would if someone said something terribly offensive. I'd want to grab them by the shirt collar and let them know just how offensive their words were. In the same way, I want to grab the migraines (or the vessels in my brain and let them know how infuriated I am by their swelling. What would the form be?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

thinking about language

In the art group yesterday, there was a volunteer I haven't worked with. He came with a reputation of being somewhat childlike himself and I groaned inwardly when I saw him. It is the begining of the quarter and its a good idea to introduce myself to the volunteers and explain what our afternoon art group is about. I forgot to do this and instead, I got involved in an elaborate discussion of contemporary politics, the result of being somewhat contrarian myself. The art group got off to slower start than our political discussion and as we wound our way through butterfly windsocks, one of the participants commented that the two butterflies she needed to glue together didn't quite match. "Operator error" I said. ""Or, perhaps different operators" she replied. "Yeah, but it gives them personality" I added. The volunteer broke in: "Who needs personality?" I wondered if this person had any idea of the effect of his words. Next to the grandmother sat her granddaugher who was experiencing the effects of a prolonged siege of cancer. With no eyebrows, no hair, no eyelashes, and missing one limb, she might well be wondering if she still had a personality. After all, these are some of the marks that we unconsciously combine into our understanding of personality. Appearances are unavoidably connected with our understanding of personality. "I've got wild curly hair, I'm intense and sometimes overeffusive I might say about myself." or, "I'm often serious and when you see my eyebrows wiggling up and down, you're going to wonder if I'm not overreacting." With the excuse of picking up a package of oil crayons from my cart, I excused myself and walked into the ChildLife office. After expressing myself with a few choice words, one of the women gently but firmly took me in hand with her words. "You've got to explain to him the importance of language." She explained that he probably wasn't aware of the effects of his words. I heard everything she said, and I listened carefully, but what hooked me in were the words: "the importance of language."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taking a Chance

One of my big secrets (but only to myself) as I work in the hospital settting is that I, too, have an illness. Migraines. Lots of them. It's taken me many years to admit it. Not complain about it mind you, just admit it and stop keeping the secret from myself. For most of the thirty years I've had them, I've adopted an attitude more like "well, I have them now, but as soon as..." Having tried a number of avenues to cure them; meditation, medication, rest, reflection, pressing on anyway, I decided yesterday to draw a line in the sand. In my backyard, I keep a small, raku-fired ceramic box with a lid. The lid has a wonderful pattern of squares and triangles drawn into it, colored in blacks, viridians and turquoise and all hatched over with the spidery black cracks from the raku firing. I've adopted this box as a place to store small messages to be sent into the ether. The writer Anne Lamott refers to this sort of container as "God's in-box" That's pretty much how I think about it. I'm not sure exactly how this force beyond me receives my slips of paper, but years of placing folded notes into God's box have taught me it works. Why it had never occured to me to put the migraines in, I'll never know. So, when I drew my line, in went the scrap of notepaper with my special word.

I didn't notice anything right away, but today several things are cropping up. I'm writing again, and the lines under my eye are easing. I've given my headaches a name: "Marge"--like Marge Dursely who populates the Harry Potter books; big, overbearing, and awkward, putting her elbows and words into everything. The biggest change I've noticed is kindness. Today, I'm giving Marge a seat at my table.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

About a blog

I'm trying out this blog out after thinking about it for many mornings under my bed covers. How do I want to cover my interests? I've spent the last number of years as an artist and an art therapist, but to write about these subjects as if I were an expert strikes me as if I were to build a soapbox and then set it up in the middle of the London town square. Nope. what I really want to do is track the thoughts of my mind on these subjects and indeed, on all the parts of my life that are part of my search for beauty in the ordinary (the ordinary being all of us humans adorned and unadorned as well as our surroundings).

hannah klaus hunter