This week, art therapist Tracey Bradford reflects on her experience of our recent afternoon with Lynn Kapitan, reminding us that ‘art is made between people’ and reflecting on the what this means in the mental health sector.
As an art therapist working in the mental health sector I find myself at the mercy of striving to prove myself, and the effectiveness of ‘the profession’, justify numbers, outcomes and results. One could easily lose sight of the purpose and meaning of art therapy. Thus, it was so refreshing to hear Lynn Kapitan speak last Tuesday afternoon, a lady with many credentials attributed to her name yet has such a humble way of speaking. The afternoon proved to be one of reminders as well as providing new food for thought. One statement Lynn made was “art is not made by people; it is made between people”. This was a timely reminder that art making is a broad, inclusive and expansive process which connects people universally while art therapy is culturally driven and so easily can place limits on itself and others. Furthermore, I was challenged by Lynn’s proposal to place mental health in a framework of human rights. This requires a paradigm shift for many but has a number of potential benefits such as lessening the stigma of mental illness and further positioning mental illness and mental health care on the political agenda. Lastly, I was struck by how Lynn experiences art therapy as a process of giving and receiving. Lynn’s actions described a place of rest, a place of openness, holding lightly, and an invitation; again a well-timed reminder!
by Tracey Bradford