Now facing the daily challenges of manifesting my dreams, I am reflective about the ongoing transformation since I left the US. Physically, my body has struggled to adapt to new environments, recently recovering from a month of typhoid fever. Emotionally, my inner state has changed an infinite number of times, but spiritually, I have found peace and self-awareness in solitude and through interactions with others. Mentally, I am continuously processing the path in my journals, and occasionally transcending the limitations of the mind through writing, art, and meditation. While recently traveling outside of my latest comfort zone, I found invaluable perspective and realized the importance of sharing this journey.
Today is the book launch for the first Sankalpa publication, a bilingual book which includes stories written by Edayanchavadi village children about hand-sewn affirmation dolls they created in art therapy sessions between December 2010 and May 2011. Please send inquiries for available copies to email@example.com and continue to follow updates on Sankalpa on the website and Facebook page.
This summer, Persephone magazine interviewed me on my journey into Art Therapy and visions for the future. Special thanks to Coco Papy. Preview an excerpt below and read the whole interview here.
"Krupa Jhaveri is a woman who believes in the Anne Turner saying that all art takes courage. As the creator and founder of Sankalpa, an art therapy organization, Krupa’s work has brought the benefits and healing power of art therapy to those who often have the least access to it...Saying she is dedicated to her work would be an understatement and one often has to look hard for the exact words to describe all the ways in which she is reaching out to touch people with her work."
I am also honored that art therapy pioneer Judith Rubin included my work in her recent film on International Art Therapy: A Universal Language for Healing. Some photos from my 2009 survey of India and Nepal can be seen in the clip on Expressive Media.
One of the 80+ stops in my previous travel survey was Auroville, an international township dedicated to the realization of human unity. Auroville is located near Pondicherry in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu. A utopian living experiment established in the 1960s, it is a fascinating and stimulating microcosm of our global reality. In everyday life here, I eat locally grown and organic food prepared in a communal solar-powered kitchen. I drive a converted electric moped, which I simply charge overnight in a standard electric socket. Available each week are a variety of activities including yoga, meditation, dance, music, cooking, movies, exhibitions, lectures and workshops. In many ways this enriching atmosphere contributes to my personal evolution, by providing access to people and information from around the world. And am currently living behind a local family home while working in the nearby villages.
In these first weeks, I have connected with a variety of individuals and groups receptive to art therapy. As planned, I am working at Thamarai community center, located in the nearby Edayanchavadi village. The children attend an after school program including arts and handicrafts (1st to 3rd standard), and I am starting a regular weekend group specifically centered on art therapy. I have also been referred for a Child Protection Services case to assist with a family conflict through art therapy (as part of a team). I will soon be introducing art therapy to adolescent girls receiving life skills and support at the Life Education Center, as well as the staff of Village Action, which has outreach to 80 surrounding villages (both women and men). Outside of village work, I am also joining forces with a compassionate living community within Auroville to offer art therapy as part of a nonviolent communication retreat. The variety and scope of experience being offered here is very exciting for an emerging international art therapist!
After a very challenging and humbling seven months of travel in India and Nepal surveying locations last year, I returned to the US to process and collect resources before returning to a village community center this November. Any donations for sustainable art supplies are greatly appreciated and can be made via PayPal here: http://www.sankalpajourneys.com/donate.html
As this vision builds, please be sure to join, follow updates, and find more information through these links:
Facebook cause: http://www.causes.com/causes/518393
The logo is a map for collaboration and integration and I invite any of you to contact me with your ideas for expanding or deepening this vision. I am currently looking for assistance in sorting hundreds of travel photos, and those with expertise in establishing a non-profit status.
In seven total months of travel in India and Nepal (grand total of over 80 places), I forfeited most technology and accessibility, including the ability to update this blog. However, in return I gained awareness of the messages of the earth, the path of the sun and moon, the identities of plants, and personalities of creatures. Above all, I tuned into my instincts, and I realized that a pattern of migration is what will suit me best in the next phase of my life. A future dream to live in both parts of the world throughout each year is materializing into my present reality.
As I evolved through these travels, my visions have as well. This phase of research/survey before opening a center in India has finished, and I am processing the experiences and preparing for my return to spend more time focused within a maximum of three organizations. I believe a well-researched foundation is necessary in this venture. At the moment, I am applying for funding for materials and expenses as I volunteer myself as an art therapist in a village community center (details to follow).
The perspective upon return allows me to share a more succinct and less predictable presentation of my experiences. Instead of cataloging each city, temple, person, interaction, etc., I will highlight themes and stories (e.g. women, addictions, children, poverty). I will also focus on profiles for organizations without websites or access to many resources, in need of assistance.
I also found myself living my dream of helping others much sooner than I thought would be possible. It has become clear that teaching art may be a necessary predecessor to art therapy in these communities. In a remote village called Sirubadi, I taught art to local children who had never seen or used colored paints before. We covered mudhouse walls inside the house where I stayed, using banana leaves as palettes, and hand signals as communication. In Lumbini, near the Indian border, I designed and painted outdoor signage for a rehabilitation center, specializing in care for HIV/AIDS patients with addiction issues.
More details from these two months in Nepal and a lot of photos will be posted soon.
Image 2: A closeup of the beads made by women in Uganda living with HIV/AIDS,
(art therapy clients).
As a second year MPS candidate in Art Therapy at SVA, I have been extremely fortunate to work with two unique populations during my graduate studies. My first year clinical internship was at a residential skilled nursing facility for children/adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, and my current internship is at a health center providing services to women with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Of the 33.2 million people living with HIV worldwide, 15.4 million are women (UNAIDS Epidemic Update 2007). Most turn a deaf ear to the stigmatized global issue of HIV/AIDS, overwhelmed by the epidemic which needs that much more attention. Though awareness is gradually increasing, many still associate the illness solely with homosexual men or third world countries. Furthermore, medical advancements extending lives have generated apathy, minimizing the tremendous number of ongoing physical and emotional challenges those infected face everyday.
Being around children, adolescents, and now women living with HIV/AIDS, I have realized that each of these individuals has an incredibly rich and layered story to tell, though they struggle to be accepted or genuinely heard. Often discarded by society because of their diagnosis, they in fact are among those who would benefit most from interaction with others. In facilitating these healing connections, my thesis research explores how art therapy can provide opportunities for containment and exchange of the stories of these women living with HIV/AIDS.
In initial group sessions, the clients were introduced to a project inspired by women in Uganda who are also living with HIV/AIDS. The women in Uganda create paper beads out of recycled strips of magazine paper, making and selling jewelry internationally in order to empower themselves and eradicate poverty. After hearing the stories of these Ugandan women, the clients were then provided instructions and materials to make paper beads themselves. While rolling each bead the women shared their personal stories verbally within the group. The clients also collaborated to create a giant paper bead, covered in collage of words and images representing three themes universally expressed in their stories: past, present, and future (see images in following post).
In ongoing groups, the women will continue to create paper beads and jewelry with the beads, work on the giant paper bead, and also create a variety of artwork, letters, and possibly videos to send to the women in Uganda (as I am in touch with the founder of the Bead for Life organization). I think that this exchange is crucial in facilitating their healing, in forming a reparative exchange after contracting a life threatening illness. Most importantly, this exchange can remind these women that they are not alone in the issues and themes that they deal with each day.
The accompanying budget includes ongoing expenses identifiable for this project, including bead making supplies, jewelry making supplies, storage, postage to/from Uganda, materials for the exchange of art/letters/etc., and costs for display and documentation of the artwork created.
This project is the culmination of a great deal of planning and research, and thus far the results demonstrate that international art therapy truly has potential to heal suffering and change lives. With presentations and publication of this work already being requested, I feel confident that this scholarship would assist in reaching the true potential of this exchange, ultimately benefiting women in both countries. Working on this scale before even graduating ensures that my deep passion for international art therapy will continue to inspire similar projects in my future career in the field.
This research is humanistic, as observational gathering of qualitative, phenomenological information occurring both verbally and in the artwork during sessions. Consent forms were signed and there are no known emotional risks to the participants. Process and progress notes, response artwork, and supervision consistently accompany and support this ongoing work with the clients.
Personally, I have found that art therapy is an alternative language, facilitating access to the unconscious in ways most of us may not be able to verbalize. It is a powerful field that I feel fortunate to have found, and it is quickly gaining recognition and acceptance though it has existed for over 50 years. Art therapists work with individuals and groups, in a variety of settings including in hospitals, schools, treatment centers, businesses, and private practices. My personal interests and goals within art therapy are quickly branching into international work.
Below is a link to a video which was presented at the 2007 American Art Therapy Association conference, which I attended in Albuquerque, New Mexico in November. The video captures this powerful work in an accessible and inspiring way, hope you enjoy it!
One of many links with more information (AATA website): http://www.arttherapy.org/about.html