We have just started up our new season of art journaling workshops again with a repeat of the popular “What’s on Your Plate? – A Literal and Visual Exploration of our Relationships to Food.” There was such a response to this multi-layered and universal topic that we decided to reprise it and allow those to attend who missed the first one in May.
We were a small group this morning in the art therapy studio – just four – but what a rich and multi-faceted discussion and experience it was. Associations with food ranged from family and community to shame, anxiety, and guilt. There was long discussion of food as a nurturing and aesthetically appealing element of life as well as an essential ingredient of survival. How and why persons relate to each other in families seems much determined by relationships to food. Our relationships to ourselves, our bodies and feelings of love or hatred of self are wrapped in the mix as well.
All the foods you want but can't eat.
Each workshop begins with a meditation, which is mindfulness based and centering.
A topic is introduced and then we often start with a “mind clearing” free write just to begin the creative process without any agenda and get the left brain activated before jumping into more right brained visual work.
The visual process might be preceded by a verbal process where the group discusses words and ideas associated with the theme, which can prompt mental images to be brought forth through collage, drawing, painting, layering of materials, stenciling or a myriad of other techniques in the journals. The act of writing in expressive form has been shown to lower levels of stress hormones and boost immune function among the medically ill. The use of both right brain (symbol making) and left brain (word making) functions simultaneously is deeply integrating and can enhance cognitive understanding of emotional issues for which words can be difficult.
Members of the monthly “Writing for the Soul” groups often seem enormously relieved by the Sunday morning discussions and engagement in exercises designed to get them “out of their rut.” This seemed certainly true for today’s workshop particularly around individuals’ current relations to food. Each was asked to write about and recreate symbols of a “meal from their past.” Which meal and with what family or persons was not specified. Many chose to recreate a meal from childhood. For others it was their adult family. Either way, paper plates were handed out and these could be used as a “plate” or circular structure if desired.
Get your journal, a paper plate, collage images of food or your favorite drawing materials (pastels, felt-tips markers etc…)
-Meditate on your physical relationship to food: sensations of both satisfaction or hunger and where you feel them in your body.
-Do a five-minute timed "free write" related to this and then respond visually for another five minutes.
-Then visualize a meal from your past (far or recent). Try to engage all of your senses and recall where you were sitting, who was there, what you smelled, tasted or felt, what was served, what conversations you remember.
-Journal on this topic for ten minutes or so and then create a visual response or representation of your writing. Use the paper plate as a template if you like.
-Another option and perhaps a restorative response to a difficult memory of a meal is to create "Your Ideal Meal."
Let us know how it goes!
On October 20th we will introduce a new theme: Myths and Myth Making.
This workshop will run from 1:30 until 3:30.
Mia and Nelly