Monday, March 15, 2010

Accepting the gift

Last week I found myself musing about gifts. As an artist and an art therapist, I spend a fair amount of time shifting between these crafts, wondering about the differences between art and art as therapy (hence this blog) and trying to balance the quality of effort that I devote to each. I often think that I could be very happy left to my own devices in the studio, but in fact, this is patently not true. I draw, no pun intended, much of my inspiration from the children with whom I work. When we make art together, I learn so much more about what it is to be a human being living and breathing and living on the earth at this time. My heart expands and thus does my vision. It's like the proverbial story of the blind men and the elephant. As the sightless men stand arrayed around the beast, a sage asks them to describe this animal. One man reaches up to the trunk and speaks of its roughness and length, another describes the sturdiness of a leg, another the back and yet another the tusks. Who has the true story? In other words one discipline feeds the other. This came to me clearly this morning after talking with my friend Beth Rommel about the subject. Soon, after that, I turned on the radio to hear Abraham Vergese, the physician and author. What I loved about listening to this man, was his absolute devotion and love of medicine. It didn't just serve to feed and clothe his family so that he could write, it was his wellspring of inspiration. The wonderful intertwining of these two disciplines was apparent in his description of his call to medicine which he relates came from reading Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage." A physician called to writing through a fictional character who is also a doctor! It underscores my belief that art and writing, in particular, fiction writing, serve to tell us truths that we could not arrive at any other ways, truths for which there is no existing image or combination of words.
Photo credit: Lynn Cohen, copyright, 2010.


  1. Yes, you make me think! A sign of a good teacher. I keep hearing you asking me in different ways about how I balance art making and my day job. ;-) Now I see why.
    Even though I don't DO art with my clients, as you do, I am sure sitting with them and their issues inspires me to create; and "gets into" my art. Or perhaps it is that sitting with them that makes me NEED or CRAVE to get into creating as a balance between the two. Perhaps it's a little of both. I think what you say that hits me hardest is knowing that what I do as a counselor is so important and it's the gift I give and get and what makes life meaningful for me. Thanks for making me look at that today, after leaving several days of art making behind me and stepping into my counselor chair for the next few days of this week.
    PS: Glad you could make that photo work for you here.

  2. Hi Hannah........gosh that's made me think........I am a textile teacher and I must admit sice starting teaching (late in life ) 8 yrs ago i have renewed vigour in my own work .......i have always created in one way or another all my life but it is the passing on my knowledge I find the most inspiring know a child has learned a skill and enjoyed the process and that I have made a difference is truly a privilege.......I too have thought at times that I would be happy just doing my own 'thing' but I know in my heart that it is the sharing of my passion is the most important aspect of my creativity.
    Hve a happy Sunday Lorna