Friday, February 22, 2008

From Behind Bars, Part VIII, On Art Therapy

Art Therapy. It was odd. Cute, interesting, but odd.

Let me just throw something out there: I am not, not a creative person. I try, yes. Do I yearn to be artsy? Indubitably. But do I have actual talent? Hell no.

So we’d walk into the art room, amid squeals of delight by the talented “Art Folk,” (I, obviously, was not one of them) and the smell of paint and glue. We’d retrieve the projects we’d been working on, which for me were sadly Kindergarten-esque.

Thus began a long hour-and-a-half of raw consternation. I was trying to be creative. I was trying to draw something other than a stick figure and a bird that looked like an M in the sky. I’d inevitably give up, though, halfway through class, and grab a big ‘ol bucket of black paint and slap it around on some construction paper and call it Fine Art. Skill. Abstract art, if you will.

Looking around me, I could see hard-core art projects going on around me. Creative Tycoon to my left was making a life-size chair out of puzzle pieces. Puzzle pieces! Art Freak to my right was getting in touch with her pain and other such junk with a gargantuan painting the size of Europe. Or whatever. I glumly look at my black swirls. Suck. God gave me no talents, apparently. This was never clearer to me than in Art Therapy, and nothing is more therapeutic than realizing you have nothing in life but the clothes on your back and hard work. Or something. No talents, none. Zip. Just my sad, anorexic, miserable little self. How cheerful.

As soon as the group was nearing its end, Art Therapist would go around the room and have us talk about our work, how it made us feel, what we were trying to depict, etc. After I have been enthralled listening to others epic woes and deep anguish, (and this black swirl represents the cellulite on my left thigh. And this ripped out heart represents, well, my ripped out heart) we come to me. Kindergarten Finger Paint Girl.

Me: Um. Black. The color just spoke to me today. You know.
Art Therapist: Ooooh. I can see your fear! Look at those rough and jagged strokes across the page. But you’ve left so many white spaces on your paper. This is depicting the emptiness you have in your life. Maybe you can have less white next time? Fill your life with color! This is moving, Brie. Wow. I’m impressed. Good work today.
Me: Didn’t I simply throw some paint around so I would have something completed? I’m deep now? Wow. Thanks. That’s exactly what I was thinking!

After Art Therapy, we await dinner. I always looked forward to evenings, because they were (usually) much quieter. Withstanding a few breakdowns and/or flashbacks from neighboring prisoners, it was usually easier to relax. I didn’t have to worry about therapy, for I’d already had it for the day. I’d already (somehow) survived Open Group and Study Hall, so all the tough and excruciatingly boring stuff was out of the way. Post-dinner was much looked forward to because we could receive letters from family and friends, (phase permitting) or even call them if we had an order from our therapist.

I tried to remain hopeful during this time, coaching myself, reminding myself that I only had one meal left to stuff in my fat emerging, evolving body. It was almost time to sleep, to get away from the crazy girls and the cool girls and the care techs. I just needed some freaking alone time, which I never got, ever.

But first, I had to climb the proverbial Mount Everest: dinner.


Stacy said...

writing, my dear, is your talent. (that sounded so mom"esque") you paint with words. I have to admit tho, I was one of the art weirdos. NOT cause I am amazingly gifted but I like it. you didn't HAVE to talk to anyone, you could just sit in your little corner and think on paper.

another invigorating installment I must say... looking forward to the next.

KC Elaine said...

I'm afraid I was Art Freak with the canvas. I remember that chair! someone eventually tried to sit in it and it broke. and you are talented at writing, Stacy's right.

Emily said...

I loved art therapy. I'm no fabulous artist but I did love to make collages. Still do.

aLana said...

oh art therapy. 1, i'm a perfectionist, and 2, i am not naturally art inclined. so obviously i had a struggle with the whole concept of art therapy, but i actually enjoyed it in the end. well, that is if it didn't involve having to paint a portrait of any kind or being stuck in "art with andy" on friday afternoons. that was the worst. he was NUTS! i'm all for the "i'll do whatever strikes my fancy in the moment and then call it art as i hastily make up a deep explanation while others start to explain their projects" philospohy in art therapy! i had a panic attack doing those damn masks and in honor of my participation asked to keep it hanging from the ceiling in there. sure, whatevs. that project just about killed me.

aLana said...

ps... to clarify: kara asked me to hang it, i definitely didn't volunteer it to be hung! but apparently i forgot to type kara's name into the last post. whoops. anyway, go art therapy! haha

Paige said...

I haven't been blog reading for awhile, so it was fabulous to come on here and get to read so many CFC adventure installments in one sitting! Matt found a box with some little oddly-shaped balls of clay from an art therapy project while he was cleaning out the den; I don't know what they're supposed to be, but I can't bear to throw them out. I'm sure they represent my will to live or something like that. Good times.

Stacy said...

ok have you ever been at CFC during Halloween time. we got to decorate pumpkins... that's right NO carving, can't let the wacko's have knives. we PAINTED THEM... good stuff.

did they count the scissors everytime you left?
I jacked them once. so that became a new rule.

PUT of pix of some of your AMAZING projects if you still have any.

KC Elaine said...

are you kidding me you JACKED the scissors Stacy? They always counted the scissors! Once we had a unit freeze until a pair of scissors were found in the trash. haha.

Stacy said...

yes, I did. I was nuts I tell you. I don't know how I ever cut myself. I am such a wimp now. OUCH!

My therapist totally grilled me, I had them hidden in my pants. They didn't know it was me.
I am the reason they count them.
Don't know if I should be proud of that.

Savannah said...

Oh art therapy. No need to worry brie because I seriously had no art talent either. I was outright horrible at it. When we did the body tracings..I went ballistic and refused to do it the 3rd time I was there. (Holy shit...that sounds bad) Anyway...Jess Christiansen let me trace her instead...what a nice tech. I figured that I shouldn't have to do 5 body tracings in the 3 times that I was there. That's a bit ridiculous...

Reading these reminds me how much I'm glad to be out of there. It was an amazing place and helpful to many, but woop woop...I'm stoked to be out in the world.

UsedToBeDay said...

Yay!! I'm so glad you left me a trail to your blog. You can expect comments, now and again...

About art... I'm sooo with you. This "critique" from your art "therapist" reminds me of an incident a good friend of mine had at her art school. She's studying to be a fashion designer, but all students there have their general eds (you know, art history, drawing 101, blah) and she had some final project where she needed to submit a portfolio of 50 works of art. She painstakingly slaved over 49 of them, and then decided for the last one, she'd turn in her paper she used to get all the gunk off her paint brush. Guess which one was the professor's favorite? Yeah... the gunked up scratch paper...

and this is why though I know I will never be good at art, I won't let it bother me.

brie said...

I love reconnecting with old friends. I can't wait to read your blog and find out what's going on in your life. I don't think I've seen/spoken wit you since our good 'ol five year reunion last summer. Go Colts!