PORTFOLIO > Art Therapy Graduate Student Work, SAIC 2021

Image description: A pair of blue jeans are laying flat on a blue patterned quilt. There is one leg that is rolled up half way and also has the word "stay" stitched in red thread at the knee.

Informal Reflection on reading and class discussion and theme:
In thinking about “trusting the process” I had a connection to an interesting idea, feeling, or state of being (?) that feels like it comes before developing trust. It’s “stay” or “staying” with ourselves and each other. Before you can trust, you must be able to stay. Stay can be action or inaction. Stay can be about being still, fixed, present in the therapeutic moment. Stay can also be a commitment to the creative process which is an action. Either way stay is oriented somewhere inside of myself as part of what I bring to the setting of therapy, and what I hope I bring into any relationship. I believe this kind of “staying” with ourselves, each other and the process builds trust. I think once we can get to trusting ourselves and each other, we can continue to be open and curious about what may be revealed in the therapeutic process. The more we stay the more we trust and so on.
I related the idea of stay-ing as a relational orientation with self and each other also when reading the articles about Queer spaces and Saneism. I identify as queer with addiction, trauma and psychiatric histories so the material was really self affirming.
“Like me, students with trauma, psychiatric, and addiction histories inevitably struggle to maintain their authenticity and sense of belonging during their training as art therapists and beyond. They rightfully fear that their legitimacy as professionals may be questioned and dismissed if they share honestly about their experiences.”
I really identified with the concept of gender creative. I had actually not come across that before but it feels very close to my understanding of my queer identity. I enjoyed hearing the words that the therapist used to conceive of her art therapeutic approach as “co-tinkering” and I could sense in her descriptions of the therapeutic environment that she uses her own understanding of herself and her creativity in designing safe spaces for these youth. This kind of radical yet welcoming, transformative and safe environment is what I hope to achieve. I believe within these environments the participants can “stay” and build trust.
“By breaking down social expectations and dominant narratives, we can create a space for youth that offers alternatives to the dominant discourse and allows them to express and explore their gender more freely. Within this breakdown, we can reimagine a social space in which the pressures of identity formation are lessened, and youth might feel safer to express and explore a range of questioning and queering of their own identity. “
Stay also has an additionally meaning to me this week. My oldest daughter left home to go to college. I thought I was ready (after all she had stayed home an extra year bc of pandemic). But now that she has left there is a deep longing for her to stay. Stay in this way is the irrational idea that she could stay small, or home or in our family system forever. I am learning to “stay” with my own grieving process and at the same time take in and process so much new information. But staying though this process, I trust will lead me somewhere.
About my artwork:
I embroidered the word stay on a pair of jeans that my daughter had outgrown. When she left for college she left behind a bag of items to be donated. I picked a pair of her jeans because of how small they were compared to how adult the rest of her clothes looked. It made me remember how small she was and all of the difficulties she and I have been through together. I located the stitching on the knee because of the way it reminded me of her skinning her knee when she was younger and how I would kiss it and make it better. There is a longing for that type of return to the simple magic of our relationship when we were younger.

thread on fabric

"Stay" embroidery on daughter's jeans
Ellen Greene 2021