I am a third of the way through my second residency at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee Switzerland. This intermodal education challenges students to learn through our bodies, minds and hearts. Students and teachers from all over the world (Hong Kong, Canada, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Mexico, United States, Turkey, India, Peru) congregate to be inspired and to learn through arts based inquiry.
We recently finished our first course in the Philosophy of Expressive Arts, let by Stephen Levine (one of the founders of Expressive Arts Therapy and EGS, who has written extensively on Expressive Arts, and has recently published a new book, “Philosophy of Expressive Arts Therapy“) and Sabine Silverberg (an inspired and inspiring professor who also teaches in the EGS Masters program in Vancouver and is adjunct faculty at Adler University). We explored many themes through conversation and presentation, such as belonging, leadership, social justice, integration, disintegration, community application, responsibility, corporate culture, boundaries, longing, and the decay of cultural practices. Our explorations were movement based (through gesture, body sculptures, dance), integrated sound (using instruments and voice), and visual arts (kolam drawings, painting, tearing paper). We excavated meaning individually and collectively, sharing disparate views which offered an expansive spectrum of philosophy and practice.
Our core group, facilitated by Ellen Levine (author of many books and the editor of “Art in Action: Expressive Art Therapy and Social Change” (2011)) and Stephen Levine, is a place to land. We started our residency meeting together, moving our bodies with paint brushes, eyes closed, finding a repeated motion with paint brushes in hand, and then added paint to paper. How does the third arise? We are challenged to let go of agenda and preconceived notions, and follow the rhythm of creation.
I have been working on this multi-media piece since our first core group, and plan to continue through the residency. Through conversations with the piece, I have been asked to “Lift the Veil”. The veil that covers my heart, my eyes, my stomach and my mouth.
“What if there are no veils?”, my friend Krupa Jhaveri asks in response to my presentation on “the facilitator’s responsibility to the group”.
I can see that something is being revealed through this process. The veil is being lifted. I will continue this piece, and share more about my journey with it in Part 2 of this blog!
In between courses we all have some time off. As we are surrounded by mountains, there are many opportunities to hike and to be immersed in the natural beauty that are the Alps! Here are some images from my hike from Saas Fee to Hannig, and then back down on a gondola!
We also go on community excursions, both the CAGS students (post-grad) as well as the Masters students in the Arts, Health and Society division of EGS. Recently we went to Fondacion Pierre Gianadda, a gallery and sculpture garden in Martigny, Switzerland. In true Expressive Arts form, we were asked to look at the movement of the art, not the lines, shapes or colors, but what is alive in the piece and what calls to us. And from that, we were asked to create poetry. These are the pieces that I responded to, and the poem that arose.
My feet speak to my vision
attending to the curves and bumps of the earth’s flesh
climbing cobbled moss
considering the reach, the stretch
Spear in hand, I walk through, towards & under
Past foreign ruins and mines that call to my chest
I lean on a threshold,
I hear the prayer of love on the other side
observing the baby ducks, hiding from their mother.
We just started our next course: Creative Project Design and Implementation, taught by Sally Atkins (co-author of “Presence and Process in Expressive Arts Work” as well as “Nature-based Expressive Art Therapy”) and Jose Miguel Calderon (former director of TAE Peru and current director of the Doctoral program in Expressive Arts in EGS). This course will help me develop the plan for my arts based inquiry, which will direct my dissertation.
More to come….