An Art-Based Ritual
by Deb Schroder
Artwork created by Magdalena Karlick
A summer ritual in the art therapy program has begun again. We’ve started our annual “Portfolio Review” process which is a part of the transition for first year students who are ready to begin second year in the fall.
Deborah John and I will sit down with each student and look at about three pieces of art that they each bring in to share with us. We ask them to bring in “significant” pieces, and after completing year one, they know exactly what we mean by that. Not “significant” in terms of framed, matted, or visually stunning. More like soulfully or psychically stunning. Those pieces that birthed the “AHA” moment or that revealed a message that had been hidden deep within.
It is an honor to spend this time with each student. Deborah and I may or may not have had them in class yet and we’re interested in hearing how first year went. We also get the chance to answer questions about second year and dispel any year-two-art-therapy-myths.
When my daughter was a Brownie Girl Scout she participated in a “Bridging Ceremony”. Each little girl walked across a small bridge and received her wings pin that meant she had flown up to the next level. There also was a little poem recited as each girl looked at herself in a mirror. I think that our Portfolio Review has a similar feel to it, in terms of looking in the mirror at a time of transition.
Each student’s art works emerge as pieces of the mirror. The “Who I Am After First Year Mirror” which already contains transformative visual information. Information that will grow and expand during second year.
I think I might try a similar ritual for myself this summer. Pick about three pieces of “significant” art from the last year and let the pieces speak. At a college that engages faculty who are Reflective Practitioners, it seems appropriate to see what my own art reflects as I am in this process with students who are asked again and again to share what’s going on inside. Rituals do take some courage.