Artist Residency in China

Recently I have presented the ongoing work in south India at various conferences and gatherings on art therapy around the world. In November of 2012, I presented at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC and this May I shared an exploration of tradition and therapy at the International Conference on Art Therapy, in Shenzen, China. I was fortunate to meet and exchange with art therapists, colleagues, educators and collaborators in related fields around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Africa, Europe, Australia and beyond.

With Cathy Malchiodi in Shenzen, China

After this workshop, I spent one month in an artist residency program at Da Wang Cultural Highland outside of Shenzen. In this lush mountain art village setting, a deeper personal process was able to emerge. As an art therapist, it was an act of radical self-care to spend this time focused solely on my own experience of materials and the creative journey. I appreciated the importance of basic needs when making art, including resources and the safe container necessary to express oneself.

Mountain range view in Guandong Province, near Shenzen, China
Through a series of mandalas created in this new environment, personal and collective archetypes emerged in a series of birds. The birds emerged as a set of guardians, gurus, and companions with relevant messages in a visual story. I developed a set of six mandalas referencing the chakras, basic corresponding colors, and symbolism through each different type of bird. Through gouache painting, embroidery, beadwork, printmaking and various recycled and mixed media, I found the basis for a future children’s book about the creative literacy process I have shared as the basis of my art therapy work around the world. In the story, a young bird named Hue experiences each color through interactions with other birds, and discovers the deeper significance of each both for himself and on a larger scale. If funding is secured for fully developing the story, I hope to publish it next year.

A mandala painting series in progress in the studio at Da Wang.
Please see much more about the journey in China through many photos captured during the trip here.