transformative practice

Leah Gipson | Art Therapist and Activist


 

Art Therapy Cultural History Timeline
Leah Gipson, LCPC, ATR

Collaboration Method

The Art Therapy Cultural History Timeline is a collaborative educational tool for art therapy professionals, students, and community leaders (service users). The purpose of the project is to create a dynamic historical timeline of events that are important to understanding an emerging social justice framework in the profession. This does not mean the timeline will ignore art therapy history that has been informed by dominant professional discourse. Instead, the co-authors should aim to develop honest and critical reflections based on evidence that does not fit into a tidy narrative of collective progress towards social justice orientation in the field.

Collaborators may use this project to document people and events outside or on the edge of the profession within a wider context. Others may decide to use the timeline to develop or expand art therapy theory and curricula. The timeline project will foster an accessible, digital learning community, in which engaging historiography (our stories about history) is essential to the social political development of art therapists as cultural actors. The process of investigating our cultural knowledge and interpretations of historical people, institutions, and events is intended to support educational training and development of critical consciousness among students, supervisors, educators, and community leaders. 

Learning Objectives

  • Investigate the role of myth in public memory.
  • Explore the cultural politics of identity in relationship to public memory, trauma, and institutional responses.
  • Identify dynamics of power and privilege in "who benefits" from dominant historical narratives.
  • Understand the influences of our social locations in hearing and retelling stories.
  • Consider historical narratives of violence and trauma and the cultural contexts of public and private art. 
  • Understand the ways historiography (history about history) shapes our identities and capacities for empathy.

Interpretive Themes

To frame the interpretive concepts for the timeline, I have selected two shifting paradigms within the field of art therapy - trauma and pathology. Each of these paradigms have already begun to be reshaped in the field in significant ways. Movement by art therapy professionals towards a social justice orientation poses new ethical questions and invites a radical restructuring of the ways art therapist understand individual trauma and individual pathology. Using the the timeline, collaborators can begin to recognize values that are deeply embedded in the way communities and institutions remember, forget, ignore, retell, and commemorate events. As the "curator," my questions address the cultural identities of the profession itself.   I propose these ideas with the following questions for collaborators to use as a guide in choosing historical entries for the timeline. 

TRAUMA THEME
What roles have collective trauma narratives in history played in shaping racial, ethnic, national and class identities in the United States? 
Trauma Entry Examples: War, Economic Crisis, Environmental Disaster, Health Crisis,  Mass Violence, Gendered Violence

 



What political, cultural, and counter cultural innovations have emerged in history in response to collective trauma narratives? Entry Examples:  Art Forms/Content, Group Action, Policies/Laws, Institutions/Systems, Sources of Knowledge Production/Communication (i.e., Research, Texts, Publications, Film/TV, Professions,) Technology, Architectural and Urban Design


How has pedagogy and discourse in art therapy remembered, forgotten, ignored, retold, or commemorated collective trauma narratives? 
Entry Examples: Education, Theory, Practice, Scholarship, Professional Actions/Events, Professional and Institutional Partnerships, Governmental Affairs, Art

PATHOLOGY THEME
What roles have collective normality and pathology narratives in history played in creating agent group identities (groups given social agency and access) and and target group identities (groups denied social agency and access)?
Normality/Pathology Entry Examples: Sources of Knowledge Production/ Communication (i.e, Religion, Standardization,  Texts, Research, Representation, Rhetoric, Institutions)

What political, cultural, and counter cultural innovations have emerged in history in response to collective normality/pathology narratives? Entry Examples:  Art Forms/Content, Group Action, Policies/Laws, Institutions/Systems, Sources of Knowledge Production/Communication (i.e., Research, Texts, Publications, Film/TV, Professions,) Technology, Architectural and Urban Design

 

How has pedagogy and discourse in art therapy constructed, accommodated, or resisted collective normality/pathology narratives? 
Entry Examples: Education, Theory, Practice, Scholarship, Professional Actions/Events, Professional and Institutional Partnerships, Governmental Affairs, Art


The timeline is a ongoing work and is publicly available while in progress. These interpretive themes are intended to become more apparent as entries are added and will eventually become collection of timelines that are organized by issues, such as disability justice, LQBTQ rights, Gender based violence, immigration, race, etc. 

 Copyright 2013 Leah Gipson