Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Factsheet for my oral report next week

Expressing the Inexpressible
Art in Grief Work - Fact Sheet

Art has been an integral part of grief work since the dawn of time.

“(A)rt forms have been a part of funeral ceremonies since Neanderthal times.“ - Malchiodi, C. (1998). The Art Therapy Sourcebook. (p. 142)

During the Black Plague, art took on a more morbid air, reflecting the fear, anger and sorrow which was universally felt. “Marked by crowded, paranoid compositions, ugly, menacing faces, bright colors and increased violence, Black Death art is unbalanced and uneasy.“ - Art and Death (

In the 19th century, posthumous mourning portraiture and other art became part of the morning process. - Leming, M. & Dickinson, G. (2002). Understanding Dying, Death, and Bereavement. (p 406).

Private bereavement art can take other forms besides drawing and painting.

Masks - Masks can represent “faces” of ourselves. (Allen, P. [1995]. Art is a Way of Knowing. p 81-82, 113-114) Similar to some primitive cultures, making masks of deceased loved ones helps to deal with the grief. (Allen, 127-140) Masks can also help resolve issues with long deceased relatives. (Allen, p165-167)

Collages - Using images from family photos, magazines and other sources can help a client connect and/or explore their personal history and the connections with family and society. (Allen, p 144-145)

Mandalas - Creating circular drawings helps to symbolize “wholeness” or the intention to be whole. It is often a very calming task. (Allen, p. 192) Releases tension and gives a holistic way to examine inner conflicts using Jungian principles. (Fincher, S. [1991]. Creating Mandalas - For Insight, Healing and Self-Expression. p. 24-32) Also allows the client to focus themselves mentally. (Fincher, p. 175)

Heart-shaped Memory Boxes - Heart-shaped boxes decorated usually decorated in collage-style. Allows the client to represent their public and private relationship with the deceased. (Primetime Live, March 7, 2002. “Tender Hearts - Art Helps Children of 9/11 Heal”.)

Quilts make a good community grief project, as in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. (Malchiodi, p 142-143)

Art Therapy is especially effective in grief work.

Perceived as less threatening than many traditional interventions. (Kahn, B. [1999]. “Art therapy with adolescents: Making it work for school counselors.“ ¶ 2)

It's flexible enough to be used with more than one approach and can be very client-centered, giving a safe outlet for disturbing themes. (Kahn, ¶ 5)

“(A)rt seems to appear spontaneously when confronted with a significant loss...“ (Malchiodi, p 144)

Art can be particularly helpful to those whose trauma is so severe that they can't find words for it. (Malchiodi, p 149)

“Color unlocks emotion...” (Fincher, p 172)

Damaging a piece of one's own artwork is an act of damaging the self, without actually harming the artist physically. It is a better release for self-directed anger. (Fincher, p 174)

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