Open Studio Process: Broken Goddess Box
I recently had the privilege of facilitating an Open Studio Process for the local Mental Health Association. We utilized the three step process of first setting an intention, followed by a period of sustained art making, then witness writing and sharing. Our materials were blank boxes and all kinds of collage materials. I worked alongside everybody and offered gentle support throughout the process. Images are from my collaged box. View of outside lid above, inside view below. We first warmed up with questions like : If you were a fabric, what would you be? If you were a taste, or a food, what would that be? If you were a sound, which sound would you be? If you were a smell, what would you be? Participants had the opportunity to jot down these answers privately, just to stretch the imagination a bit.
Art making is such a physical activity. The intention of the warm up was to encourage participants to pay close attention to their sensory experiences of life, to be aware of their bodies as vehicles of experience and to get in touch with various expressions of their inner essence.
During the artmaking portion, participants were invited to explore the materials without any concern for outcome. Different materials were placed about on several tables. They were encouraged to freely move about the room, to touch the various papers, textiles, fibers and items (feathers were a big hit) and to note the different textures, sensations and to claim the which ones appeal to them. All were reassured that it was okay to rip, cut, glue, tie, twist, smooth and crumple – simply be at liberty to play. There are no mistakes, no such thing as a wrong decision here, no such thing as a bad mark.
Lots of magazines were provided to browse through and participants were invited to choose any images that resonated with them. Having images to choose from releases you from the pressure to generate your own image, which may be intimidating. Although the images already exist, the way you choose to combine them imparts them with your own unique stamp of creativity.
We had only about 35 minutes to work, but everyone dug in with some mild encouragement and the results were astounding. I am continually humbled by the richness of creativity in each person, once the individual allows herself to access it. Creativity is a human birthright and bypasses no one, even the one who emphatically protests : “I’m not creative!”
I was enriched by the wisdom of each person as she spoke about her own individual box and process. The ground rule of active listening with no comments created a safe and respectful space for sharing. I once again experienced the power of metaphor and learned from each participant’s story. The room was full of truth and I left a better person for it.
Discover more about the Open Studio Process by exploring Pat B. Allen’s website. You will find warm up exercises and other great ideas for art making and accessing creativity in Spirituality and Art Therapy, Living the Connection, edited by Mimi Farrelly-Hansen. Highly recommended.