In my work as an MFT Intern, I get to really delve into one of my passions - using art in therapy.
A few weeks ago I went into a classroom of adults with intellectual disabilities to do an art workshop. We created masks. I was pleased with the outcome for several reasons -
1. It was an adult form of expression. Too frequently, these students are given really child-like craft tasks to do - pages from coloring books, stringing pony beads, things like that. Now - I love me some coloring books, but I take issue when they are given as the only option, and because of a perceived lack of ability or skill. They met my level of expectation, which was high.
2. It was an open-ended art form. Creating a mask from mixed-media is a very different thing than "follow this pattern and color inside these shapes." Doing something this open-ended requires imagination, perseverance, creativity, problem-solving, and a certain amount of courage.
3. They filled the time and the space. We had a certain amount of time to fill and 30 students in the class. A lot of times in that situation, a handful of people will finish really fast, and then be bored, while the rest take longer. Going beyond the time it takes - a lot of people will glue two things on a piece of paper and then decide they are done. I really wanted to push the students to do more - to use layers, depth, and a lot more materials. They did. I made this happen in a few ways - a) I rotated supplies, so every 10 minutes they'd get something new. b)I showed examples of masks in museums for some inspiration. c)I demonstrated how one material could be used in a lot of different ways. d)I used art vocabulary - such as dynamic, energetic, depth, layers, complexity, repetition - and they kept going with it.
So I wanted to share some photos - for obvious reasons, photos of the actual students have been left out. But their work, I think, speaks for itself.