Art for Human Development
Much has been done in the field of art therapy. Less attention has been paid to what might be called "therapeutic art." This is artwork that's designed (or at least used) for facilitating the viewer's ongoing process of becoming more real, authentic, fully human.
How does this work? Ideally, the artwork embodies the energy of unconditional love -- the same energy a great psychotherapist or facilitator of human development embodies in listening to a client. A work of art can symbolize feeling that's at the growing edge of the viewer, and carry the feeling forward.
When we're living in full flow, our feelings flow. Sometimes, though, feelings seem to get stuck -- as if caught at the edge of a stream by branches or some kind of undertow. The same thoughts and emotions just keep circling around. There's a sense of stagnation and stuckness.
What releases us back into the full flow of life is the process of finding imagery that fits the feeling. Imagery can be words -- metaphoric words -- or an actual image. The sense of being fully understood, seen, known and accepted and cared for releases us and the feeling shifts without any effort.
What artwork can do this?
Any artwork has the possibility of doing this. However, the intent of the artist matters. Conceptual art is usually aimed at evoking an intellectual response, rather than opening the heart. Much art education is devoted to training an artist to manipulate the viewer, so as to convey a specific message or thought from artist to viewer.
From our point of view, art that's aimed at facilitating human development takes a different approach: listening rather than telling. In other words, we look for paintings and sculptures that seem to listen. This usually means that the artist has been listening while working -- listening to what the artwork wants to become.
It's all about process!
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