Is Art Therapy?

Over the course of the past two weeks, my thesis has begun to take new shape. The interviews are coming along nicely, as are the images I am taking, and with each interview, the book evolves a little more. I feel I now have a clear idea as to what my thesis will be about. My thesis book is an investigation into what artists learn about themselves from their art and art-making practices and processes—how visualizing and re-contextualizing internal processes and moments of self-discovery aids in resolving internal conflict and emotional baggage. This will be realized through the juxtaposition of image and text in a book I am designing filled with interviews I have conducted with artists here at Maine College of Art.
    One thing that helped to clear my head a bit was the trip to Mass MoCA with the curatorial team. We spent the weekend in Northern Massachusetts, which is a good four hours away. I usually hate long car trips, but I felt this trip was quite worth the distance. While at Mass MoCA, I got to see the show of one of my mentors from the early 2000s: Are You Really my Friend? Not only did I recognize a number of people in her images, but my wife and I were in one as well. It was an amazing sight to behold—a project which took Tanja six years to photograph more than 600 of her Facebook friends from around the world. After photographing us in our apartment, she was able to spend a little bit of time catching up with us, and talking about art (both mine and hers) before moving onto her next subjects. Seeing her show in person reminded me of the days I spent working in the darkroom where we met, and having the opportunity to speak with artists on a regular basis about what their artwork meant to them.
     After a weekend away, I felt reenergized and was ready to dive deeper into the next set of interviews. One of the most exciting interviews was with MaKenna Pope in the photography department. While I have spent the last four years working towards a degree in graphic design, I have never forgotten my routes as a photographer. Telling a story through images has always been quite important to me, and I was quite delighted to spend an hour talking in depth with MaKenna about how were had changed her.
     I was also lucky enough to be able to find time to interview three more people later in the week: Hannah Howard, in the printmaking department, Christine Colatosti in the painting department, and Justin Desper in fashion and textiles. With each of these additional interviews, I found myself more and more excited to learn about their processes and how their art impacts them. By now I have shot more than 500 photographs, and recorded about seven hours worth of audio. It has been recommended to me that I find a way to incorporate some of the audio I have collected, which may be realized by having an iPad with headphones as a part of my installation, displaying images of the artists as they speak in their own words about how their art has impacted them. Provided I have time, this is something I would like to develop, but as I had to start over about a month in, I need to prioritize. The audio component is something that can come later. For now—more work.