"Sit with what you already have, and dream with it in a new way."

~ Shaun McNiff

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I work towards understanding the psychology of emotions and righting the wrongs of trauma through diverse artistic approaches. Inspired by Shaun McNiff’s (Professor and Dean, Institute for the Arts and Human Development, Lesley University, Massachusetts, U.S.) research on art as a medicine for the soul, I transform a creative workspace into a healthy communal place where meditative artmaking is practiced. [1] Such a space helps to build interactive dialogue, and informs experience towards new meaning. These processes support not only the individual participants’ emotional wellbeing but also their immediate friends, families, and neighborhoods becoming “creative entrepreneurs” as they embrace the mechanics of their emotional psyche and learn to attain stability in life.

The most valuable teaching tool that I hold close to my heart is the generation of processes that support the “sculpting” or transformation of emotions into tangible forms. Such processes suggest a series of actions, translations, and fluctuations where the ambiguity of previously unexplored ideas and thoughts surface while simultaneously transforming into creative results. One of the major objectives of my teaching practice is to deepen participants’ understanding of and comfort with “liberatory process” through their own creative investigation. “Liberatory” is a term coined by Paulo Freire and Ira Shor in the book, A Pedagogy for Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education, which is defined as a form of teaching that utilizes self-conscious as a tool for investigating challenges within and outside of the classroom. [2]

Through creative artmaking, participants are able to decipher a spectrum of emotions. For this, I employ Person-Centered Therapy to my teaching where participants learn to accept the viewpoints of others by practicing empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence (Rogers, 1961). [3]

I believe in creating an inclusive teaching and learning space where different forms of artmaking — whether drawing, fiber, animation, puppet making, or community arts — are used as a tool for self-expression. Such forms enable learners to reach for and attain higher levels of achievement and engagement within themselves and the communities they interact with. Through such experiences, participants learn to balance the emotional and cognitive modules of their learning processes. They also learn to acknowledge and support their personal experiences while creating a safe and secure learning space where each member feels acknowledged and empowered. Ultimately, participants learn to value self-awareness, personal growth, and social change as the outcomes of this learning environment.

Throughout my professional life, I have highlighted the concept of community mediation by merging creativity arts, psychotherapy, and entrepreneurial strategies. I believe in reciprocity where teachers become learners and learners become teachers. Being a woman from a developing nation, I have holistically encountered, analyzed, and established many soulful relationships during my socially engaged odyssey. I have devoted my career to help communities to re-engineer themselves by introducing creative mechanics of arts, psychotherapy, and narrative-based storytelling through the use of varied artistic media.

 

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[1] McNiff, Shaun. (1992). Art As Medicine – Creating a Therapy of the Imagination. Shanbhala.

[2] Freire, Paulo, & Shor, Ira. (1987). A Pedagogy for Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey.

[3] Rogers, Carl. (1961). On Becoming A Person. Houghton Mifflin. U.S.