Saturday, January 30, 2010

Putting the Pieces Together

In my studio the other day, I caught sight of an exhibition catalogue that lay on one of my work tables. The exhibit featured a seventy year old South Carolina artist, Aldwyth, who had never before shown her art, but had an amazing store of work reminiscent of Joseph Cornell with a slightly darker flavor. The piece that I fixed on featured a collection of puzzle pieces stained shades of umber and burnt sienna with the printed word "WORK' on all of the pieces. They were glued in a seemingly random pattern inside a wooden box whose narrow lip had fragments of sentences glued to it. As I looked, I began to ruminate on "how things fit together" and decided to put that idea to work in my art therapy group at the hospital. That afternoon, I took four 9" x 12" sheets of watercolor paper and drew curving lines that divided the paper into four pieces. The volunteers and I cut up the paper and quickly realized that we wouldn't be able to put them back together unless we wrote a number on the back and noted "B" for back. Otherwise, people might end up drawing on the back! After we'd cut the pieces up, I wanted to mix them up so that people would not know which piece they had or how it fit back together.

 I could not have anticipated the reaction of both the children and the volunteers. They loved it and covered the pieces with geometric designs, stripes, mandalas, teddy bears and flowers drawn and painted with markers and watercolors. What is it about separated pieces of cardboard or paper that makes someone want to put them back together again? Before the paint was dry, the children and adults eagerly tried to glue them down. The wish to heal, to fix, to mend, to become whole again within the walls of the hospital was made manifest. That wish strikes me as the motivation of most of us; we want so much to gather the puzzle pieces of our lives and see what we can make of them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Interview with Jan Ferris in Sacramento Magazine

Art Therapist: Hannah Klaus Hunter
“Davis 7” by Hannah Klaus Hunter
February 2010 If you click on the title above, you can read an interesting view of my work as an art therapist. The interview with Jan Ferris, the writer, took place at time when I had lost many children whom I was close to at the hospital. All were girls, all with some form of cancer. The interview reflects my feeling of darkness at that time and, simultaneously, the capacity of art to carry me on. Using the cloth, bits of paper and paint, I've created panels for each of these children. As Jan noted, I want to express my belief that these lives do matter and do live on in all those who knew them.

Art Therapy with Grieving Children and Adolescents

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coming home to the studio

It's always exciting to return home after vacation to see what the studio has in store for me and I for the studio. It's a complex mix, this relationship. While I've been away, the pieces have been sitting accumulating presence and I've been storing up new ideas. Each moment away is a movie frame; this large leaf, that tree, the way in which a woman wears a strand of pearls. Images are stored to be retrieved in the studio, popping up in a seemingly random order, as in a dream.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beginning Again

I like thinking about the meaning contained in the book title "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki;" the sense that no matter how many times you've started and stopped a project, you can always begin again. So I am, inspired by the Blastoff class I'm taking with Alyson Stanfield, I'm selecting and clicking away and feeling as if I'm painting with keys instead of a paintbrush. I'm excited about posting entries on a regular basis now that I'm back.