An edited collection of essays from a number of different practicing art therapists, from a diversity of backgrounds. Each author presents a different view of art therapy practices, and stems from a different spiritual background, yet they all focus on the connection between creative expression, artistic practices, and the spiritual sense of the human soul. Ranging anywhere from Christianity to Buddhism to Spiritualities connected to the Natural world, the authors tell their personal stories, as well as those of clients that they have worked with, all using the arts to connect them with something greater outside of the self. In turn, discovery of the self and the spirit comes from relating and engaging in the artistic and spiritual world.
Now, this all may sound a little hokey to some, and I understand that: art therapy isn’t for everyone. But for those that can really engage and connect to the process, it can be vital in providing a sense of healing, or at the very least, a release of some kind. This book definitely has it’s ups and downs in terms of essays that really resonated with me, but all in all, I found myself understanding where the authors and artists were coming from. Being an artist and student of art therapy myself, it would reason that I would find Farrelly-Hansen’s collection to be interesting and informative. For others, however, it may be a little dry or seem a little too whimsical. I just don’t really know anymore, as when I speak to some about the idea of art therapy, they are incredibly receptive and see it as being a very useful practice. Yet when I speak to others, they are extremely skeptical about the whole thing, and think that it would be a waste of time. I suppose that is what this book would be like, as well: you might buy into it, you might not. Just like the whole concept of spirituality and the multitude of ways to look at that in itself, not even in relation to artistic practices.
One of my personal favourite instalments within the compilation was entitled “Each Time a New Breath” by Bernie Marek, which looked at the creative process through a Buddhist lens: the intake and outtake of experience, moment by moment, allowing things to be present as they need to be, and healing through having a sense of wholeness of the self, opening up to the rawness of our world and our experiences.
I’m realizing that this review isn’t coming across as helpful at all, is it? I guess all I can say is that I found Spirituality and Art Therapy: Living the Connection to be easy to read, and I can definitely see how it relates and will be helpful to my understanding of my studies (yes, this is once again a book I am reading for school). If you are interested in art therapy and how it relates to spirituality, then by all means, read it as well! I certainly found the personal stories included to be quite interesting.
[As always, this review is also posted on my personal blog.]