Thursday, March 29, 2007

tinker bell & co

This is a double header, or maybe I'll just do tomorrow's blog today. I went to an art therapy symposium this morning at a Catholic university in our general area, very nice campus, rather large school. I went to a continuing education program hosted by the U. for students, faculty and workers in the field. The speaker was (is) the dean of a large East Coast university, has written several books, travels the world lecturing and is an artist himself. I don't know what I expected, but I had high hopes. Being that I have sort of landed in the middle of people suffering from addictions due to my son's problems and am learning on the fly how to be of assistance to them (hopefully), I thought the art therapy situation would be a natural for me, and might give me more tools and more insight in my volunteering and group encounters.

I cannot describe to you how the morning went except to say I think it made me realize I need anger management classes. I cannot believe how inane, vapid, without any real substance whatsoever and thoroughly semantic someone who claims to be an expert in a field can be, or appear, or communicate him or herself, excepting perhaps if you are a politician. This one seemed to have all the right moves for that profession, but who needs the constant spotlight when you can have an adoring and (mostly) female crowd hanging on your every Birkenstocked word without it? I am trying to think what he said-what DID he say, before the oversized sheets of cheap butcher paper, tempra paints and old, broken oil pastels were passed out for us to "express ourselves". What was the topic anyway that led me hear-what sounded so compelling I felt it was an appointment with destiny? More like an appointment with a Timothy Leary look-alike, equally doped. And his middle-aged Tinker Bells, first "expressing themselves'", and then dancing (excuse me, moving) to their pictures. His whole deal was, "don't label". Just let patients, clients, play...and yes, I saw this philosphy in action when Brandon was on the psyche ward of a local hospital. He constructed a miniature wooden car, painted it black and had some slogan of doom painted on the back. There was something especially hideous about seeing him there in sweats, painting a child's toy, right after he committed murder and tried to kill himself.

They are all kidding, right? How in the world does this help anyone? Ok, I could go for the freedom of expression track if someone is catatonic or lacks the apparatus to speak. I was so angry at the way my money was used for this supposed "symposium" I got lost going home, and it struck me as I was driving in circles the wrong direction, that this was the perfect analogy for what I had just been through. I was expressing myself, driving around. It was a beautiful day. There were lots of pretty sights. But the intended object, "get home", was eluding me. What is the intended object of art therapy? Therapy has to do with healing. Healing has to do with exposing what is ill, out of joint, not in line, making well. There has to be a measurable road home. Playing with paints is not it. That may make everyone feel better for a time, but I can tell you if I foisted the same exercise on the prison inmates I visit weekly, I'd probably get beat up or laughed at, and those ladies are the most honest people I know.


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