Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 2009 American Art Therapy Association Conference: A Visual Diary

Just before Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to attend the American Art Therapy Association's annual conference in Dallas, Texas. From the time I arrived on Wednesday evening until the time I said goodbye on Sunday afternoon, I experienced the thrill of learning from and connecting with like minded professionals. Below is an image of me making a holiday card for our troops overseas...


The atmosphere was frenetic; the creative energy in the air was palpable. I had the intention of tweeting and blogging my experiences in real time, to share with others, but alas the I was so inundated with great information, the only thing I could do at the time was sit back and try to soak up as much of it as a I could.

I wondered what would be the most efficient way to document and share my experience. {Insert flash of brilliance here} “Ah-ha!”, I thought, I will create a visual diary of my art therapy conference experience. What could possibly be better medium for an art therapist to communicate than a visual one? And as the cliche goes, a picture does say a thousand words ...

Every day from about 8am until 5pm, there were a variety of workshops and lectures offered. Some of my favorites included:

* learning about the Sanctuary Model of treatment to address adolescent trauma and support a client with a history of cruelty to animals by Rebecca Beers-Miller, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT, CCLS

* a presentation by Christopher Belkofer, MAAT, LCPC, ATR, entitled" The Changing Brain: Applying Clinical Neuroscience Approaches to Expressive Therapy Interventions in Residential Care" where an EEG measures were used to observe the effects various art materials have on the brain.

* Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC in panel on Independent Art Therapy Practice along with my graduate program director P. Gussie Klorer, PhD, ATR-BC, LCSW, LCPC, and Donald Cutcher, LCAT, ATR-BC .






*"Transforming Past Mistakes into Future Lessons" with Gretchen Miller, ATR-BC , Nicole Brandstrup, MA, ATR-BC, and Jordan Potash, MA, ATR-BC graciously sharing lessons learned from their clinical experience with adolescents in art therapy.










* My office mate, Sibel Ozer, LPC, ATR sharing her clinical observations on varied client responses to the interchangeable use of Art Therapy, Sand Play, and EMDR.

In between presentations I snuck away to the Open Studio to find some time for quiet reflection. An Open Studio is described in art therapy literature as a supervised studio setting where participants are treated as artists capable of choosing their own themes and materials instead of clients who are restricted to specific materials and given a directive. Open studio participants are taught how to use art as a safe, yet powerful tool for personal expression and self understanding.

My open studio work consisted of personalizing my new sketchbook. Here we see images of art therapists at work in the open studio, and before and after shots of my sketchbook.






Another highlight of the conference included the Artist Market, which allowed art therapists to showcase their creative talents, offering handmade jewelry, artwork, scarves and many other beautiful items. Above we see Altered Dominoes for sale to benefit the Art Therapy Alliance and the International Art Therapy Organization.


The conference organizers had the ingenious notion to hold the conference proceedings in Dallas Fine Arts District. Here is a shot of me outside the Dallas Museum of Art. "Life imitates art"...


A sketch of a life size wooden sculpture of the Hindu Goddess Durgha riding a tiger, symbolizing her reverence as a protector of mankind from evil forces. I sketched Durgha one evening at the art museum when I was feeling fatigued. I felt much better after the 45 minute sketch, perhaps I was able to absorb some of Durgha's strength?

In addition to drawing on my own, I participated in some collaborative drawings with Art Therapist Lee Ann Thills. Lee Ann shares the results of our collaboration and her experience here.

And lastly, an image of one third of a giant mosaic mural outside the Dallas Museum of Fine arts. The mural, entitled "Genesis" is an allegorical representation of the creation of life on our planet. Originally constructed in the 1950's it was a gift from Mexico and had to be transported and reconstructed where it stands today in Dallas.

It's huge! I can't imagine the work involved in its original construction, much less deconstruction and reassembly. Learn more about the mural and see additional images here.

In short, my time at the 2009 American Art Therapy Conference was simply amazing. Every time I attend the conference I come away with more respect for the field of art therapy and the dedication of its professionals. For me the image of the Genesis mural is fitting way to close this post as I feel like my entry to this creative and amazing field is just beginning. Any contributions I might be able to make will involve hard work and cannot be accomplished alone. In the end hopefully the pieces will fit together in a way that makes something beautiful.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

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erinbrumleve said...

Well said, Anonymous! Thankyou!

Karen Wallace said...

Hello. I am an Art Therapist working in Regina SK. Canada. My blog is Art Therapy Reflections. I am interested in where you bought the 5 Matryoshka dolls? The protect is wonderful!! I enjoyed reading your blog.
Warmly, Karen

Erin Brumleve MA, LPC, ATR said...

Hi Karen -

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I found the Matryoshka at www.wtg1977.com - their prices are very reasonable. Good Luck to you and I'll check out your blog!!

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