My 7 Links

Marriage Circa 2011, ©2011, H.Hunter, Collage: paper and acrylic paint

I recently accepted Donna Iona Drozda's invitation to participate in a project: My 7 Links Project. For this project, each blogger chooses 7 different posts to fit seven unique categories and then invites up to 5 more bloggers to do the same, and so on, as a way of uniting "bloggers from all sectors in an endeavor to share lessons learned create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts..."

A timely invitation and one that I thought about because it seemed to me a perfect chance to look over the year's post, to form in my mind a gestalt of what I'd written, a means of seeing the road I'd traveled and perhaps the road I might choose to take in the year ahead.

Like the doors on an advent calendar, I invite you to open up one or more of these links and see what you discover.

Most helpful: Young Adult Bereavement Art Group/Art Therapy in Action: This post proved to be helpful in two ways; one for me, because the post reflects how much I learned about the grief process of young adults, but also because this information is useful to those people who wish to start an art therapy based bereavement support group in their own community.

Where I Live, ©2000, H. Hunter, 15" x 18", Acrylic & Caran d'ache

Most popular: Finding Sanctuary: addresses our universal need to find a safe and sacred space. Nature + art = one of the most effective ways to find it.

Didn't quite get the attention it deserved: Timing is Everything: There's a lot packed into this little post with M.S. Merwin's poem. Spring opens our eyes with its fleeting beauty and we're reminded, once again, of the transience and beauty of life.

Most proud of: Art Therapy 101: No questions here. Art Therapy 101, about my daughter who was my first teacher in art therapy, wrote itself.

Peonies at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art

Most beautiful: Accidental Journey: Places of the soul--all of us have them and I accidentally traveled back to mine in this trip to Maine. Here I share images and thoughts of this magical journey, especially one gorgeous blush colored peony.

Surprising Success: A Different Kind of Summer: I had no idea when I wrote about spending the summer in the studio that it would elicit so many responses. At the hospital, when I'm asked what I did on the weekend, my answer is always the same: "I was in my studio." (And it's always a pleasure.)

Most controversial: New Beginnings: The controversy here is subjective within the quilting world--I suddenly felt confronted by an entirely different way of seeing the quilting process, one I hadn't considered and which challenged me to re-examine my approach to the aesthestics of art quilts.

And now some nominations--4 blogs with entirely different focuses--something to satisfy different parts of my personality.

From the Scattergood Farm: written by two teachers at Scattergood Friends School (my daughter's high school alma mater) where students both study and work a living farm. In this new blog, they present some radical new ideas for school lunch. Check this out!

Patricia Scarborough: I love Patty's posts--witty and wry and half a continent away, I love to read her observations and see her plein air plainscapes. 

Dwelling Here Now: One of the first blogs I discovered, Anthony Lawlor takes a spiritual approach to architecture and the architecture of thought. 

Blue Sky Dreaming: Blue Sky's open minded approach to her subject matter and materials intrigues and inspires lots of us in the mixed media world.

Finding Sanctuary

Where I Live, ©2000, H. Hunter, 15" x 18", Acrylic, Caran d'ache on paper

Where do you find sanctuary?

I began to ask myself this question after a Trauma Informed Art Therapy Course I took last week in San Francisco.

When working with trauma victims, creating a sense of safety, or in other words, a sanctuary, becomes your top priority.

But how to do that? How to find safety in the midst of physical and/or emotional pain?

There are tried and true art therapy activities, but I wanted to go a bit deeper. The word "sanctuary" made me think of the Jewish practice of Shabbat. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a 20th century theologian, wrote about Shabbat as "a cathedral in time"--a "place" in time rather than space in which a person could could learn to rest.

In other words, sanctuary could be a state of mind rather than an actual place. I began to ask people how they find sanctuary. Some of their answers:

"Sanctuary is being with my family, watching Dad make spaghetti and then sitting around the table eating it together."  "Sanctuary is when my whole family is home and I can close the blinds and we are together and the rest of the world is outside." "Sanctuary is running."  "Sanctuary is my new kitten."

I took advantage of the art groups I facilitated and asked people to make collages of their sanctuaries and the guardians of these places. What emerged surprised me:

A gorilla with wise eyes staring out of the picture surrounded by bits of colorful pieces of quilts. The eye of a tiger surrounded by spring green fronds of leaves. The plain of a desert with two yucca plants in bloom. A home built on the foundation of chocolate chip cookies.

In almost all the images, nature played a central role. It didn't seem to matter whether someone had ready access to nature, it was the time spent imagining and creating the image of a place that evoked a sense of restfulness.

It seems that with the ever increasing pace and pressures of modern life, this kind of sanctuary is more important than ever--a pause we take that allows us to touch base with something more primal and tangible. I'm curious how many of you use art as a refuge?  If not, how do you find sanctuary?