Art Therapy Conference: The Artistic Drive


Panel speakers viewing a film about "The Artistic Drive"

Rebecca DiSunno, Laurie Wilson, Francis Palazzolo, Randy Vick and Juliana Driever view and discuss a film about "The Artistic Drive."

Why do people create art?  If art therapy clients are artists, should their names go on gallery walls? Is a self-taught artist a different client than a classically-trained artist?  These questions and more were considered at the art therapy department’s annual conference on Friday, September 23, 2011.

This year’s conference, The Artistic Drive, brought together scholars and practitioners to explore connections across the fields of art, art therapy and art history.   The first speaker of the day, Dr. Laurie Wilson, an art therapist, psychoanalyst and art historian, discussed the artists Alberto Giacometti and Louise Nevelson.  She addressed how these artists were driven to create by personal vision and life experiences.  Next, Randy Vick, Chair of the Art Therapy Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, presented on folk art and other traditions outside the fine art mainstream.  His presentation touched on the influences of fine art and folk art in the development of art therapy and on areas of overlap that can exist between those traditionally considered “patients” and “artists.”

In the afternoon, Laurie Wilson and Randy Vick were joined in a panel discussion by Juliana Driever, Francis Palazzolo and moderator Rebecca DiSunno to discuss topics related to the conference’s theme.  Dr. DiSunno, an art therapist and SVA faculty member, guided the discussion and fielded audience questions.  Juliana Driever, with a background in curatorial study of self-taught artists, addressed questions including what weight to give to an artist’s biography when viewing their artwork.  Francis Palazzolo, an artist, is also the director of Hospital Audiences Incorporated, a studio which provides work and gallery space for artists who are disadvantaged. Francis showed a short film of artists working in HAI studio space and talking about what motivates them to create.  As one artist said, “I don’t maintain my artistic drive, it maintains me.”

The afternoon concluded with a coffee reception and a chance to connect with students, speakers and colleagues in the lobby of the SVA Theatre.

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