Guest blogger Gail Sachson is the owner and founder of Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is past chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and is the Art & Advocacy Art Guide, adding an educational component to the annual Auction.
The sixth annual Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Art & Advocacy Auction (Nov. 1, preview on Oct. 30) at the Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG) will raise funds for the center’s highly praised art therapy program. Making art with an art therapist offers the center’s clients – physically and/or sexually abused children or children who have witnessed a crime – a way to express fears and anxieties, which they might not be able to verbalize. The center’s certified art therapist, Julie Espey, says, “Therapy doesn’t take away the memory, but it becomes a tolerable memory.”
The 95 works of art in Art & Advocacy 2012 are generously donated by collectors and talented local artists, such as David Bates, Allison Smith, Rusty Scruby, Gabriel Dawe and Pamela Nelson – artists who support the program and heartily acknowledge the power of art and art making. Click here for a preview of some of the work up for auction.
According to the center’s literature, “When there are no words, art gives children a voice.” In 30-45 minute sessions, once- a-week or more, the children (ages 4-18) may meet with an art therapist. The role of the therapist is not to pressure to produce a product or to push an agenda, but to gently suggest an activity, offer a directive – a suggestion of a story to tell – all with a choice of an array of artistic materials. Then, the art work is evaluated and conversations are had with the child. The process looks for clues as to what fears remain hidden, which symptoms are reduced through the art making and how to proceed with treatment. Progress is reviewed every 12 weeks.
The client might choose to create a collage, a puppet, a painting, a sculpture out of clay or even a diorama. Cutting up and pasting hurtful pictures and/or words from a magazine or tearing colored papers into symbolic strips – perhaps different colors for different family members – offers non-pressured ways of telling a story they might not want to tell, especially when drawing figures might be too frightening or difficult. Merely being engrossed in the process of making art is therapeutic.
The therapist might say, “Think of the people who you can talk to. Think of the people who were there for you, the people who really listen to you. Choose a colored strip that reminds you of that person and create a support net.” The result is often a colorful web of interlocking woven strips, but in purposeful placements. The child’s explanations provide clues to the therapist of which family members helped, hindered or hid.
The child might be asked to draw a person in the rain. Why rain? Rain is generally uncomfortable. We try to escape the rain and not get wet. We seek shelter and safety. A young, abused child, early in therapy, might draw himself wet, vulnerable and sad. After several months of art therapy, complementary counseling and court advocacy, that same child might draw himself under an umbrella. Safe and sheltered from the rain.
Come to the auction. Buy the art and be these kids’ umbrella and shield them from the rain.
The catalog of the live auction items is now online through Heritage Auction Galleries. Early bidding is accepted.