February 17, 2010


AC and I have been talking about symbols for a long time.  I am interested in symbols and trying to impregnate them with meaning so that in a way I develop a personal language.

Back in November I was dealing with a complete breakdown of my relationship with my mother.  I was trying to understand where I was and how I saw my mother...both now and as a child.  AC suggested that I do some collage work around it. 

I had actually been planning to nearly two years before this and had collected a box full of images that appealed to me at that time.  I think that I was still into too many words about she said, did etc.  But in November I just felt but didn't have the words necessary to convey that in writing.  Art Collage was a great way for me to see my internal world.

Today I was reading a post that Erika refereed to in her post about Facing Our Personal Walls: 10 Cool Links.  In her first link she talks about Cathy Malchiodi, who started a new on-line organization called the International Art Therapy Organization. I was reading her article in Psychology Today called Cool Art Therapy Intervention #10: Magazine Photo Collage. 

She talks about using images to convey your thoughts.  It is a kind of play therapy because you can manipulate the pictures till they are where you want them before gluing them down.  When I did mine at first I just picked three images that spoke deeply to me and glued them down.

I found a new blog this week Jafabit's Art Embroidery.
She has used her sketchbook that she took to Washington, D.C. and used one of the pages to make an embridery art out of it. Here is the first post that shows her journal entry that she has started with.

How have you found symbols or used symbols in your art?  May be you know someone who inspires you with their use of symbols, I hope that you will include a link. 

Page 14 of my Miro inspired Journal.
He confessed later that hungry hallucinations were his muse. “Compared to the use of ether, cocaine, alcohol, morphine, or sex, Miró’s hunger-hallucinations look almost like a monkish fasting.” (p.44 in Joan Miró. By Janic Mink. Benedikt Taschen Verlag. 1993)


the wild magnolia said...

Excellent post, great new blogs and awesome new art....thread art. I've followed the links provided and am impressed.

Doing collage as art therapy is so exciting.

So many new possibilities...amazing.

Anonymous said...

What a great post, and some interesting links too. I'm still working on my library of symbolism, but I do know that patchwork is my personal metaphor for collecting memories, and the spiral is my symbol for time.

Anonymous said...

Well written. You know me, I love symbols and the meanings we give them. Also, that is fascinating about Miro...fasting until inspiration hit! I like your term
"monkish fasting".

JafaBrit's Art said...

blush! thanks for the shout out :) I have never really viewed my art as therapy but there is something to be said about creating a visual dairy of feelings that are often hard to express or articulate or you just want to get it out of your system in a positive way.

I enjoyed reading your post :)

Sandra said...

Thanks for being so open and telling about art therapy. I think art therapy is quicker than a therapy in which you talk a lot. Images have such a powerful effect, I think that's amazing.
About symbols: I think I have my own symbols, the eye and spirals are my favourites.

JafaBrit's Art said...

Oh, I think of Kiki Smith using art that expresses a range of feelings and issues that she has had to deal with in life. Some of her work is not pleasant to look at, but it speaks volumes.

Quilt Architect said...

I guess I see in art therapy a mindfulness of the symbols that children pick. It is mindful because someone is paying attention to it...the child is paying attention to his own mind and then translating the inter world to the outer.

When we pick symbols even if it is photographs...we are conveying what we internally see and bringing it up in a mindful way. When we then play with it by putting it into our art, we are giving it the "attention" that it deserves and it starts to translate into our own language. At least this is what I was thinking about with art therapy and creating our language out of symbols.

Thanks for all the great feedback.
Next post will be my five symbols...

Kari said...

This is a very interesting discussion. If I am upset, I always feel better when I start working on my art, but I have never tried to create a piece of art about what I am upset about. I will have to give this a try! Collage would be the perfect way to begin. Also, I tend to use whole phrases (such as "blowing in the wind" or "follow your star") or poems or rhymes in my art more than I use symbols, although I do repeatedly use stars. You make me want to explore symbols, too! Wonderful post, lots to think about. Thank you! xo Kari

Bill Evertson said...

Love your discussion of symbols. I've been working for a while developing a personal symbolic "palette". While mine take the form of carvings in plaster that I use as stamps, I'm always on the lookout for others exploring their identities with this form of visual shorthand.

Deb G said...

Came to visit via Writing up a Storm. I've been thinking about symbols a lot too. About how I think there are universal symbols in our culture (squares and circles) and personal symbols that are different for each of us...