Twenty-five years and 5 surgeries later I’m still healing from an accident which changed my life. Two friends died in a car accident and I was spared. I walked away. I did not know that both of my feet were injured and continued to not know until 13 years later when arthritis and bone spurs brought intense pain when I walked.
A lot of life has happened in 25 years. I am married to an incredible partner and have 2 beautiful, strong-willed, compassionate and creative children. I have a fulfilling career where I try to connect with and support others on their paths to healing and recovery.
Surgery 3 weeks ago removed 2 screws which have been keeping my left, big toe joint from bending. I feel compelled to use these objects in some way that transforms them from what they were into something new. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened so long ago and here is another opportunity to try.
What is safe, what is unsafe?
What does safety look like, feel like, sound like?
How do you know when you are safe?
How do you know when you are unsafe?
I ponder these questions as I go deeper into my work with little ones, grown ones, and the ones in-between. With dialog and art media we explore stories of struggle, threats to safety, resilience, set-backs, side-steps and efforts to move forward.
I created these sculptures from the same foil/tape method as used with the starfish and giraffe series. I will complete with acrylic paints once they are ready. For me, the shells represent a familiar, innocent and straight-forward form of safe space and protection. Often, in my clients’ experiences, there is no familiar, innocent or direct connection to this most basic need.
My daughter was present and engaged during my post surgery recovery in 2011. She worked healing magic on me as well as her dolls and lovies.
Colored tape, bandages, hugs and kisses…bedside with mama for those many days of recovery.
Today my daughter, aged 6 and headed for her own surgery, visited a most wonderful, child oriented surgery center where she was offered a child’s vantage point on what to expect. Once home, we spent the next several hours acting out the new information using whatever props and subjects we had close at hand.
I’ve created a scene using sculpture to reflect the process I often experience when working with children and adults.The giraffes are watching the birth of starfish in varying stages of loss, pain and regrowth. The resilience and determination is often so great that one can only give thanks for being allowed to witness such spirit.
The giraffes have long awaited the next members to the foil/tape sculpture family.
A single starfish has emerged which seems to sing of loss, hope and rebirth. When an arm is lost a new grows back. Loss is so clearly a point of transition from one state to another.
There is no stagnation only movement towards rebirth. Let the process shine.
In my work as an Art Therapist and Licensed Counselor, I am helping adolescents and adults dealing with substance abuse issues. We have been creating “altered books” as a means for journaling and self-expression. I have come to see the altered book as a metaphor for the physical body, and its alteration from substance abuse.
I am using hardcover books – cast-offs gathered from friends and the local Goodwill thrift store – that my clients have reinvented and redefined to hold words, images and transformed paper; the altered book releases feelings and communicates ideas. Covers are collaged and fixed with Mod Podge, and then about 1/3 of the existing pages are torn out from the book to relieve the binding and allow space to add new works.
This has been a powerful art experience for everyone. While there are wildly creative and endless possibilities, here are a few images from my own journal just to give the idea. A special thanks to those friends who have rallied to collect books for this ongoing project.