Last week SVA students in Cork had the opportunity to connect with their new environment in a variety of ways. At the beginning of the eco-art therapy workshop with Suzie Cahn students were encouraged to ground themselves in their senses, allowing a greater connection with the environment that would soon be used for art-making. Suzie also shared the importance of nature in historic Irish culture; an important principle that has clearly informed her work. Participants of the workshop spent time exploring a small area of Spike Island, silently creating artwork from natural materials in the vicinity. Everyone seemed to embark on their own journey in this experience, as reflected in a gestalt writing exercise led by Suzie to process the artwork. Some participants shared insightful narratives about their artwork, whereas others shared descriptive prose.
From this workshop we can understand that each person experiences their environment differently; a theme that continued as SVA students participated in two daysof life drawing classes. The classes were led by Helen Farrell, PhD, a Cork based artist. Helen focused on a phenomenological approach to drawing and encouraged students to truly observe the model with the environment in order to further connect with the space and expand a visual vocabulary of drawing. The class included gesture drawings, blind contour drawings and extended arm drawings; each exercise offered a unique product for each SVA student. Looking at each student’s vastly different responses to the same model and environment suggests the unique personal experience that each student has; an idea that extends to the unique experiences that will be found in future therapeutic relationships with clients.
Written and compiled by Jenny Asaro. Artwork by Jennifer James.