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Art provides insight at new SLMH exhibit

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 23rd, 2013

photo by Jon Stinnett South Lane Mental Health art therapist Deb Blackstone prepares a collage for exhibition in the "How Art Thou?" exhibit. Blackstone said such works of art are used to assess clients and bring up questions that can be useful during therapy.

How Art Thou?

The exhibit’s name comes in the form of a question, one that art therapists Deb Blackstone and Jill Robertson have been asking clients at South Lane Mental Health for more than a decade. They receive their answers in lines, shapes and color, emotions that often defy words blaring through works of art that can also help bring healing.

Starting this Friday, April 26 and continuing throughout the month of May, visitors to the Cottage Grove Community Center will be able to view ‘How Art Thou,’ pieces of which South Lane Mental Health board member Cathy Bellavita said have been seen by the public in other venues.

“We showcased some of these works when our new building opened, and there were some on display at the garden tour,” she said. “We soon realized that this is a potent exhibit, and we wanted to have the pieces explained to let people know what art therapy is and give them an intimate look at the interaction between a patient and therapist.”

Blackstone said many of her clients’ works start with a directive or a suggestion about their subject matter. They’re typically undertaken as a way to assess more information about a client. Set parameters are often agreed upon, such as the house-tree-person format that Blackstone said speaks volumes about a client’s family, relationship to nature and themselves, respectively.

“Depending on how they portray each of these aspects, we have a conversation about what that may say about them,” she said. “We don’t interpret the works as much as present questions that they help us think about.”

In such a painting or drawing, Blackstone said, barred or closed windows may prompt questions about a client’s openness to others. The size and positions of each object also speak volumes.

For the complete article see the 04-24-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-24-2013 paper.

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