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Can art save you when you are lost?

Transcript for “Can art save you when you are lost?” with Barbara Vaughan

Lisa (00:00):

Preparing yes. Preparing.

Lauren (00:03):

Oh, it says we’re live. The meeting is being livestreamed it. Yeah.

Barbara (00:06):

I got it too.

Lauren (00:07):

Hello, you did it. You made it happen.

Lisa (00:11):


Barbara (00:12):

Few technical, but we’re good now.

Lisa (00:16):

We’re good. We’re great. So, um, we’re Art is Moving. We’re here for our podcast. And today we’re talking to Barbara Vaughn. I’m really excited to have a chat with her. I know Barbara from when I was an undergrad, I worked for her for something called Teen Art Explosion, and it was a very amazing cutting edge program for kids that were kicked out of every school. And I loved it had a blast. So, Barbara tell the world about yourself and your passion for art and who you are.

Barbara (00:46):

All right. I’m Barbara Vaughan. I have a Bachelors and a Masters in Psychology and a Masters in Art Therapy with an emphasis in Counseling. I’ve been working with teens in an at risk world. Mm-hmm <affirmative> for 20 plus years since about 1999. So, you know, getting close anyway. Mm-hmm <affirmative> So yeah, that’s me in a nutshell. I have always seen art. Well, I’m an artist myself and art saved me through a very difficult childhood at times. So, it just kind of made sense when I found the program that was hiring for someone to run a grant funded program that was designed to use art in a substance abuse intervention and prevention program with at-risk teens. So I was like, well, that sounds like art and psychology. So at the time I hadn’t gotten my Masters in Art Therapy, but, got the job and stayed with it for 10 plus years doing that. And then I went into private practice doing consulting and transformational art groups with different populations around Northwest Arkansas. And, then in 2009, I graduated with my Masters in Art Therapy and counseling. So

Lauren (02:20):

Well, given all that experience, the question we wanted to sort of walk around and discuss, dive deep into is can art save you when you’re lost? And my immediate answer is yes. And so the follow up is how can art save you when you’re lost. And if you could give us some insight into that, I have a feeling you have some experience with that.

Barbara (02:47):

Right? Right. Well, a lot of times you have to figure out why they’re lost first, right? What is the root of that feeling? Are they lost because they have no direction. Are they lost because of trauma? Are they lost because of attachment problems with friends and family? Why are they lost? So off the top of my head, when I was thinking about this, a story that came to mind immediately, that kind of portrays this idea. I was working with a group of boys that were in a substance abuse treatment facility for eight to 10 months. And I saw them twice a week for two hours each, each week. And always at the beginning of a new year, we don’t work on resolutions, but I do want to start the conversation about creating a vision for your future, right? And with these boys, because they came with probation officers and charges back at home and foster care issues.

Barbara (03:54):

It was sometimes hard for them to create a vision for their future mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so the first time I introduced this, after some introductory processing, I just had them create an image, just any kind of composition that kind of shows something you want for your future. And this one boy, sat there with his arms crossed, refused to do it, shut down, completely didn’t wanna talk about it at all. At that time there was a social worker that came with them to my art studio, where we did the groups and she finally convinced him, said, why don’t you tell Ms. Barbara what’s going on? And he finally shared with me that even though he was going to be successfully completing the program, he had just found out that he was going to be charged anyway, as an adult with a felony when he got home.

Barbara (04:54):

So his future did not, it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about. So, I shared my story as a cancer survivor and I said, if anyone knows mm-hmm, <affirmative> what it’s like to be really scared about the future, I get it. So, eventually he, uh, did create a composition and his first drawing showed his fists in handcuffs. That was it. That was his future. So the next time they came back, I had taught them Batik with the dye and the wax on fabric. And the idea was to put your composition now on fabric, dye it and we were going to turn it into a pillow. His finished piece had black and white bars across the bottom with barbed wire, but in this, the gate was open and there was a trail leading out of it up a hill to a house with a swing set and a tree and the sun in the background.

Barbara (06:03):

Hmm. So he was recognizing that yes, prison was a possibility, but there was something beyond that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> So this was major. Fast forward a couple of months, and he actually got a job at our local food bank and worked so hard there and was such a good worker when he got released from the program and actually went to court the other people that worked with him at the food bank came down and advocated for him. He did not go to jail. He got probation, but he did not go to jail. So that’s an example of one teenage boy that was very lost initially. Mm-hmm <affirmative> In the end through art, he discovered something else. Now the magic of what we did there was turning the batik compositions into pillows. Think about him, snuggling up with that pillow, his vision, every night. So, there’s definitely a psychological impact to that.

Lisa (07:22):

Powerful story.

Barbara (07:23):

I know that’s one of my favorites <laugh> I

Lisa (07:26):

I love it. It’s like Bravo, you know what I mean? You really transformed somebody’s life through art. And just thinking of that, how do you think art does help people? I mean, it helps anybody. I, cause I feel everybody’s an artist. I think we all do on this panel, but how do you think art does help you find the way?

Barbara (07:44):

Well, you know, there are all kinds of psychological studies and biological studies that show the power of art to relieve stress, to calm someone down, to help them escape from, you know, those thoughts, those intruding negative thoughts. And just, just that when you are stressed out, if you can doodle for 10 minutes, you’re going to feel better. There’s something powerful just about that process. So if you’re able to be brave enough to actually pick up a paintbrush or a pencil or markers or whatever it is and use it, you’re going to find out something about yourself that maybe you didn’t know.

Lauren (08:38):

Yeah. That’s what I was thinking about about when you, when I initially asked the question, you said, first, you need to know why you’re lost mm-hmm <affirmative> and I feel like art is your answer for that. Art is your answer for figuring out the why to kind of all of your questions about your yourself, and your own emotions and things like that, because it does, it can show you what your other part of your brain, is sort of protecting you from. Exactly. I also think looking even just looking at art can do that. I think every person that’s allowed themselves to be open to an experience of going to an art gallery or a museum or public art, or what have you, performance has been changed by that experience and has had, has a story to share about a work of art that hit them in a way that they were not expecting mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I think that that’s what’s happening is that it’s opening a part of you mm-hmm <affirmative> that maybe you’ve been protecting yourself from, or hiding yourself from, uh, for a while. Uh, because a lot of it is fear, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> and that that’s the power of art. Yeah.

Barbara (09:51):

Well, you know, we are born and especially learn as we grow a resistance factor in our brain, a counter arguing, there’s resistance to self reflect. There’s a resistance to talking about things that are meaningful to us. So aren’t actually bypasses that part of the brain and taps into something much more organic that you can’t argue with. It just comes out <laugh> right. It, it, it just comes out. You weren’t intending to, but there it is.

Lauren (10:33):

Yeah. Yeah. And I’m constantly thinking, we we’re constantly talking about that. Like when people are apprehensive of making art, that’s probably, even though they might not understand that that’s one of the reasons, right. A lot of people say, well, I’m not an artist I can’t draw. And then when you, when you answer to that and you’re like, well, that’s not the part that matters. And if they can get beyond that, there’s another hurdle. It’s the hurdle of actually, well, I’m kind of scared of what I might create. I’m kind of scared of what myself might wanna tell myself right now. And maybe I’m not ready for that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, what do you say to someone like that when they’re not necessarily ready to almost face their own demons? Have you ever encountered that in your work?

Barbara (11:17):

Yeah, when I was in graduate school, we had to find someone in the community and do individual art therapy with them. And specifically this one task called the diagnostic drawing series. And, um, it’s a series of three pictures. And then you process and I had a seminary student that was, um, looking at graduation in the following year. And in our conversation, I happened to make an observation just strictly about his picture. And he shut down, said, wait a minute, I didn’t bargain for this. And he got up and he left the room. Oh, wow. Right, right. Yeah. And I went back to my class going, I don’t know what I did wrong, you know? Oh my God. Well, he came back cuz we had to meet with them for three sessions and he came back for the third session and he says, okay, I apologize for that.

Barbara (12:19):

But it touched something that I had to really go home and reflect on. And he said, I don’t wanna talk about it. But I did go to my supervisor in my seminary school and we processed it. And I want to thank you for helping me identify an issue that I didn’t know was there. Wow. Right. Wow. So yeah, that, that resistance is pretty magical. And that, that inner critic that we develop, you know, we develop it, um, developmentally about the second or third grade, we start getting that inner critic and it serves two purposes. One of the purposes is to protect us. Mm-hmm <affirmative> it, it keeps us from doing things that are going to make other people laugh at us or other people think poorly of us. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but it also restricts if we give it too much power, it restricts us from ever actually trying things that might be beneficial.

Barbara (13:28):

Art, you know, is one of those things. So when you see someone that’s like really resistance is I can’t draw, I don’t do that. Okay. Just scribble, just scribble. Everyone can scribble, you know, but it’s really funny when you see people try and scribble that are that resistant. It always has a pattern and that’s not scribbling. So put the marker in the other hand and let’s try again, you know, so you have to be really patient until the scribbling actually starts to open them up and they start to relax. Then, then stuff can really come out. The conversations can really start.

Lisa (14:12):

I love I’m finding, I’d like the idea of this resistance. I, when does that, when does that start in your it’s a condition thing? When does that start in our being?

Barbara (14:21):

Well, it starts about the time that your inner critic starts. Okay. So the inner critic starts between, uh, second and third grade, but by the time you get sixth grade and then especially into those junior high years, when peer pressure is such a big thing, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that’s when resistance can either come in and plant its roots. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, because again, that peer pressure we wanna blend in, we wanna get along, um, people that get stuck, there are those that say, I can’t draw.

Lauren (14:55):


Barbara (14:56):

People that, you know, are able to counter argue that resistance and try new things. Anyway, those are the ones that are much more open to different kinds of therapies and different kinds of interventions. So

Lauren (15:09):

Yeah, I can, I can see that. Yeah. I was talking with someone about our take in our break movement and what resistance we’ve encountered and sort of our responses to that. And I was thinking of, I was saying to them that I it’s the gist about finding that thing that works for you mm-hmm <affirmative>, but it’s really about the fact that it is kind of all inherently in us. And I think we just hide it from ourselves and the rest of the world. And I was thinking about my own children who don’t like sit still. And if there’s music, especially if there’s music, I mean, they just don’t sit still at all. But if you turn music on, it’s like a full out party in our house. And I, I have that kind of body too, where if there’s music, I, I will be singing or I will be dancing or at least be tapping my foot.

Lauren (16:02):

There’s no way I can. It’s almost like I can’t control it. And I was saying to this person, I actually think that most people are like that. It’s just that the older you get, the more nervous you get about like kind of people looking at you. Like you’re a weirdo <laugh>, mm-hmm <affirmative> you can’t, if you’re like singing to a song or dancing, when you hear music or moving your body in a way that doesn’t seem quote unquote normal. Like if you’re, I don’t know. I just think of someone in like a clothing store, right. There’s music playing. I kind of go to another world and you know, and I, I can you don’t so like, how do you do that in a world that’s constantly telling people that they need to, to blend in mm-hmm <affirmative> because most of group settings in children’s lives are actually telling them to blend in for management purposes.

Barbara (16:56):

Right, right,

Lauren (16:57):

Right. What do you, how do you, how do you compensate for that? Or what do you do.

Barbara (17:05):

It’s interesting. I see this manifest in clients that have some kind of social phobia. So they hate going to the grocery store because they’re terrified. People are looking at them all the time. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so, you know, it generally starts with, okay, set your watch a minute. When, after you’ve gotten in there, I want you to stop what you’re doing. And then just do a 360 look around how many people are actually looking at you. You know, no one is now, right. We have five minutes now try, you know, because they grew up either really, really sheltered where someone was constantly taking away choices because they wanted them to do it. Right. Well, you didn’t do that. Right. You didn’t make your bed. Right. So mom’s gonna make it for you today. You know, watch again, eventually that, that hinders, you know, that, that shuts off a person’s ability to believe they can do anything.

Barbara (18:08):

Right. So now they start becoming very self critical and they believe everyone is staring at them because they just are who they are. Right. They look where these are the negative messages we tell ourselves, especially when you’re in a state of phobia like that. And one of my clients, I had him do that. Exactly what I just said, go to the grocery store. And when you start feeling anxious, I want you to stop and just turn slowly around and look at the people around you and notice is anyone looking at you? Right. You know, and within a few weeks of doing this, he was able to go to the grocery store, buy himself, you know? So, um, it really is a, a process of retraining the brain at that point to identify new messaging, you know, to feed it, new messages that say, you really can do this.

Barbara (19:05):

Yeah. So at the other way, people get like that is if they have no safety in their childhood. So, you know, there’s, they learn to be very, especially you see this in abuse, um, either physical or emotional abuse in that they’re so scared they’re going to set someone off that they don’t do anything. Right, right. Completely shut down. So, um, those are the types of people. When you see that person who says, I can’t draw, I won’t even pick up a pen to, to scribble, you know, then, you know, right there that something from their childhood has created this problem. So we need to back up and do some more talking until we can create a safe space. Mm-hmm <affirmative> for them to share whatever that is. So right.

Lauren (20:02):

Do you have any suggestions of like, not, you know, I’m sure you’ve encountered this in your work as well when people say, well, I’m not even gonna do that because I can’t draw. Is there another suggestion that you say we’re like, well, okay. Let’s listen to music. Let’s go look at the trees or the sky and things like that. Are there things that people can do to get a little bit, one step closer to that?

Barbara (20:28):

Well, if it’s a client in session with me, I say, okay, that’s fine. We don’t have to do any of that. Do you like looking at magazines? I’ve got some magazines. Can you find three pictures that, tell me just a little about who you are. Mm-hmm <affirmative> everyone can find three pictures. That’s nonthreatening, you know? Well, I like dogs. Well, I like hamburgers. You know, this is what kids give you, you know, teen giving. I like dogs. I like hamburgers. I like makeup, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> okay, great. What is it you like about those? And that’s how you start the conversation to begin creating that safe space. So, you know, that fear comes from childhood and as adults, if they come to us, then that means they’re they know they have a problem. And it’s just a matter of being flexible, which we, as artists are flexible, <laugh> we it’s being flexible and just kind of reading them, feeling them out. And sometimes it’s just, can you here, here’s some silly putty play with silly putty while we talk, play with some Play-Doh while we talk, you know, those kind of things, just help them start getting used to the idea of using their hands with you. Yeah. They don’t realize that’s what you’re doing, but you’re getting them used to the idea of using their hands while they’re talking.

Lisa (21:51):

So what I’m hearing is resistance comes from trauma in your childhood. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, that’s what that’s kinda that trigger. And then yeah. Is that kind of that? And then, and then when you’re, if you can get people to start using their hands and they taste a little freedom, then they can retrain their brain to be like, oh, I can be happy. I don’t have to be so <laugh> I don’t have to be in this jacket. You know what I mean? This great jacket of resistance.

Barbara (22:18):

Yeah. You know, it’s, it is some form of trauma. A lot of people wouldn’t identify it as that. I had a great childhood. My mom did everything for me, you know? So that’s why you’re 27. And you still take your laundry home to mom. Right. <laugh> so, okay. Let’s talk about that. Let’s see if we can get you to do that. Simple things, but they won’t identify it as trauma. So again, you’re right. Using the expressive therapies, continuum, identify six levels of brain processing, and there are different mediums you can use to change the level of processing in your brain. So anytime you’re using your hands, you’re more in that kinesthetic, you know? And so that tends to open people up. If that’s why people, a lot of times, if you’re walking, they will talk. If you’re driving somewhere. That was when I had the greatest conversations with my kids, cuz they weren’t looking at me, but we were going somewhere. We were using our bodies, you know, raking leaves worked the same way. Doing something allows you to access a different part of your brain. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because you’ve turned off that resistance by opening the door through the kinesthetic motion. Does that make sense at all?

Lauren (23:46):

Oh yeah. That makes total sense. I think that it’s like we see that all the time when we have people taking art breaks at a table together that have never met before. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and the, the depth of the conversation, the seriousness of the conversation and how quickly it gets there, is always sort of, sort of incredible, you know? I think it’s, it’s that it’s like even the act of not having to look up at someone while you’re saying something right, exactly. Right. If you’re just doodling at a table and you just kind of say something it’s, you’ve removed that barrier of fear almost, right? Like that eye contact can be intimidating for people. Right.

Barbara (24:31):

The art break too, you’ve got someone there doing the same activity.

Lauren (24:35):

Yeah. So

Barbara (24:36):

I always find the resistance is a little bit easier to bypass in groups. Mm-hmm <affirmative> than it is one on one, because again, then peer pressure starts happening. That’s why in a group, I give the directive, you know, people that want to start the other people sit there and watch I’m always doing it with them, you know, and then going over and helping this person are making suggestions, answering questions. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but it’s that sharing of the creative spirit that allows people then to go, okay, I’m gonna try this. I’m gonna do something, you know, instead of sit here for two hours. So, um, in an art break day kind of thing, you’ve got that peer pressure quote, unquote mm-hmm <affirmative> let’s do this and I’ve sat down at the table and I don’t wanna look like an idiot. So that’s where the inner critic plays in your favor. You know what I mean? I don’t wanna look like an idiot and if I’m sitting here and not doing it and everyone else is

Lauren (25:40):

Yeah, yeah. It’s like positive, positive peer pressure or something, right? Yeah.

Barbara (25:47):

It’s positive punishment clearly, you know? Right.

Lisa (25:51):

I loved, I, I, when we were at art break day all the time, I always thought it was like, I just cause people’s heads were down and it was, they would always talk, like you said, really deep. And like, they were best friends by the end of the conversation and they hang out for like an hour or two hours. But my, my theory was always cause the head was down.

Lauren (26:10):

I, I do. I think that has something to do with it. You know, I also have noticed with my own children and I’ve had to sort of step back as a mom because they do stuff when I’m talking to them about some things. And I have had to allow myself to allow them to do that because it actually, it almost helps them process more and it also helps them open up more, you know, because at first I’m like, can you please look at me when I talk to you? <laugh> right. But then I, I started to realize like, I, I, they, it’s probably in, I’m probably intimidating them a little bit. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and they’re also processing just so learning how my own children’s brains work and relating it to like how my brain works and my husband’s brain works. Of course they can’t do one thing at a time. When am I ever doing one thing at a time? That’s not how my brain works. It’s definitely. So they’ve inherited that. And so for them to even just be flipping their fingers through a book pages or to be looking down at a book

Barbara (27:08):


Lauren (27:09):

<affirmative>, they can talk to me more. And so it is, it’s really interesting, this like idea of how to help people have more conversations. It’s almost like maybe conversations don’t need to be had the way that we expect them to be had. Maybe they’re stronger when we allow people to feel less intimidated by a conversation because for some people talk, speaking of like those phobias and all of this stuff that we carry with us, mm-hmm <affirmative> um, maybe a conversation is terrifying. And so maybe it’s better to just find that sort of that flow. And I do. I think that art is a really good way. Once you can get past the fear of art and you can sit down and do a true scribble doodle with someone you’ll leave feeling more connected with yourself, with them and probably have like solved some sort of problem or realized that it’s not as scary as maybe you thought it would be, you know, right. To have a conversation and to make art. Right?

Barbara (28:21):

Exactly. Exactly. You know, that’s why the eye contact unfortunately, has been socialized to mean you’re in trouble. Think about it in the classroom. You know, teachers are like, Jason, you’re not looking at me. I’m trying to say something here.

Barbara (28:37):

Or parents oftentimes, like you said, look at me when I talk to you. Right?

Barbara (28:42):

There’s an automatic social conditioning that says, if I am looking someone in the eye, I must be in trouble. So, so to protect ourselves, it’s easier to talk when we don’t look at someone else. So, you know, if you have someone that just sits there and doesn’t look at you and doesn’t do anything, that’s more of a challenge. If you have someone that doesn’t look at you, but is doing something physically, are they just bouncing their foot? Are they, you know, playing with a pen? Are they playing with their hair? Right. Get them doing something. You know, I know myself, when I take classes, I had a, a doodle journal. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I had my notebook that I took notes in, but I also had a doodle journal when I was listening. When I went to the Peace Corps, I did Zentangles all the time during training. And initially the instructors were very put off by that. They thought I was being disrespectful. Right. Until they would start asking questions and I could answer whatever it was, they threw at me. And they’re like, we figured out that’s the way you listen. Right? Yeah. I don’t listen if I’m just sitting there looking at you. I don’t listen at all. That’s just me.

Lisa (30:05):

Yeah. I mean, I think there’s study saying draw when a lecture or in class, you actually retain more information. Mm-hmm <affirmative> on the other hand, I thought of that looking at you is that authority figure that’s that, you know, it’s could be just, just the authority. Could it be the government? It could be whatever, you know what I mean? Exactly. Whatever that, you know, makes us shaken our boots. And the other thing that I wanna circle back at, I love that you said when people create together or when they start creating, they’re sharing their creative spirit mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I think when people start sharing it, that’s, that’s when they, you know, that’s when things start really changing and transforming. Cause what I love about Art Break Day, you know, people talk and you know, like get really deep in conversation, but they always leave their art with us. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so they want to share the creative spirit with the world cuz they like to see it all hung up. So that’s full circle, like sharing the creative spirit. How does that feel? What does that do and how can everybody experience it? <laugh>

Lauren (31:06):

Yeah, I think, I think right to think about this, the question, you know, can art save you when you’re lost? How can art save you? You know, how does it do that? Right. And I think that,

Lauren (31:20):

I mean, obviously art can do so many things. That’s hard to wrap up. But I think that it, it does, it, it almost brings you more into the conversation and then when you’re more into the conversation, you’re more connected. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and I think that when you’re feeling lost, when you’re feeling as though the ground is sort of separating underneath you or you’re feeling overwhelmed or you feel as though you have no future mm-hmm <affirmative> right. I think that when you sort of make art about it, have you made art about that today? Right. You can maybe discover that part of you that’s maybe holding you back or facing that fear of that future that you feel is planned out for you mm-hmm <affirmative> and then maybe make that shift. Right. You imagine that story that you told at the beginning of the conversation and had that person not made art about it mm-hmm <affirmative> um, they would’ve, they would’ve basically shackled themselves into that future that had been essentially made for them. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I mean, it takes a lot of courage to face that kind of future. Right. But by doing that, they changed it, which I think is so incredible.

Barbara (32:39):

Right. Well, just creating a vision for something you want for yourself, just that simple fact can change your future. Imagine going on a road trip and not having a map or directions, what are you gonna do? You’re gonna go around in circles, you know, imagine putting a jigsaw puzzle together. That is perfectly blank. That has no picture on it. How much more difficult is it to do that than it is when you have pictures to go by. So, um, you need some kind of image that you’re working toward in order to make the journey a little easier, make the puzzle come together a little faster, you know? Yeah. So, yeah, those things you’re gonna get lost. If you don’t have a vision for your future, you’re just gonna do it. You’re gonna be at the mercy of the current of the stream and you’re gonna get thrown on the shores. I talk in metaphors. I apologize. <laugh> that’s OK. That’s right up. That’s right up my alley. Yeah. So

Lisa (33:49):

Can you, cause I love this idea of creating a vision. We all need to create visions. Can you just give people that are listening, um, an easy way to create their vision for, for 2023, just kind of like an activity

Barbara (34:04):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> well, you know, you can Google vision boards. That’s what a lot of people do. Mm-hmm <affirmative> is create a vision board and it’s just a on the front end, it looks like just a collection of random objects that are speaking to you. But when you stop and, and pull ’em together and kinda lay it all out together, you start seeing patterns, you know, these are trips I wanna take. These are words that I wanna feel. These are people, you know, I wanna be more connected to people that can have a whole lot of different meanings. Um, once you do it and it’s just seriously, it’s going through magazines, going through your drawers, walking around, you know, looking through your junk boxes, you know, and finding things that you’re drawn to, for whatever reason, you don’t have to know why just it, you pick it up and it feels good.

Barbara (34:58):

So you put it in your pile and eventually you start seeing these patterns emerge that help you identify where it is you wanna go for the next year. You know, it can be as simple as that. And you can get all kinds of ideas just looking on Pinterest or, or Googling, just vision boards. You’ll see them everywhere. Um, with people, yeah. With people that are, you know, really resistant magazine, collage is the easiest thing to do. It’s just, you know, find some magazines, go through ’em and tear out or cut out pictures and words that you like and then put it together and see what it says to you. So, there’s, for some reason, those magazine collages are the least threatening thing. Yeah. That a person can do, but they can have some of the most powerful meaning and impact once you start processing them later.

Lisa (35:59):

Oh, just one, one. Cause you kept on saying, recognizing the patterns. What if people don’t know how to do that?

Barbara (36:04):

That’s OK.

Lauren (36:06):

OK. <laugh> that’s OK. I know. I, I, yeah. That’s okay. I, I like the idea of this activity that you said, which is you, when you were talking about, grab it because it makes you feel good. Like what if you, even if someone had no magazines, no way of taking photographs or whatever, if you just did that for a day, did that for an hour? Just notice what makes you feel good? Just notice what makes you feel good? And you could even either just make a mental note of that or jot it down mm-hmm <affirmative> and then I feel like for people who are like, I have no idea how to recognize those patterns. Right? Show it to someone. Get brave enough and show it to someone else because I’ve done that before, which is like, I can’t figure this out. Why do I keep doing this? You know, you can you just tell, you know, give me your, give me your insights. Right? Give it to someone else or, or come back to it later. Yeah.

Barbara (37:05):

Right. You know, a lot of people say, I don’t, I don’t see any patterns. Okay. Just put it on your wall. Mm-hmm <affirmative> just put it on your wall or put it on your refrigerator, walk by it every day and take a look at it. Eventually something’s going to click mm-hmm <affirmative> but you made a good point. Lauren, if you don’t have magazines, you don’t have pictures, go for a walk and pick up things, rocks, leave sticks. And if it makes you feel something, bring it in, you know? Yeah. If it makes you feel negative, toss it away. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But if it makes you feel something, either ambivalent or feel good, bring it in. Yeah. Because chances are you picked it up for a reason.

Lauren (37:47):

Yeah. I like that. I mean, that’s a great self-awareness exercise. It’s making you feel good for a reason. It’s making you feel bad for a reason. And, let’s elaborate on that. Yeah. I like that

Barbara (38:02):

You were talking earlier about going to art galleries. And I used to take my, the teens in my programs to an art gallery, or we would have an art show ourselves of their work. And you know, it was really funny because teens are gonna go look at some abstract painting and go, I can do that. You know, that’s not good art. Why is it hanging up here? What does it make you feel? Well, I think it’s hideous. Okay. Why, why, why do you think it makes, why do you think it’s hideous? What is it about it? Is it it, because it’s too simple and you’re kicking yourself because you could have done that, but you never thought about it. Well, let’s go back and try, you know? So if it makes you feel something it’s good art, I don’t care what it looks like. If it makes you feel something it’s good art.

Lauren (38:56):

Yeah. I’m all about how art makes you feel. Yeah.

Barbara (38:59):

I had a kid in our after school program that Lisa taught in. This was one in a different school. That one day I came in and I said, we’re making bad art today. We’re making bad art. And so, you know, his normal thing was skulls, suicides, blood, you know, and he starts doing all of that again. And I went, no, that’s your good art. I wanna say bad art. And this is a kid with a Mohawk piercings tattoos, you know, the whole thing. He starts making rainbows and butterflies flowers and it was hysterical. And then when we process about why he did chose that as bad art, well, because it’s pretty and I don’t do pretty. So what is it about pretty that makes you feel bad, you know? So you start asking those follow up questions that makes them start thinking, but it was so funny to see him suddenly making rainbows and butterflies and flowers. <laugh> that’s awesome.

Lauren (40:03):

Opposite opposite day. Wow.

Lisa (40:05):

This conversation could go on forever. It’s almost like it’s almost like art makes you feel, and then you kind unwind that you have to have the courage to go. Okay.

Lauren (40:16):

Yeah, I think right. I think it’s a very multiple step process and you can make the choice how deep you wanna go, you know, because it’s, it’s great to open, open yourself up simply by taking an art break, you can just reduce stress by taking an art break, but you could also look back at that art and figure out why you’re stressed and you know, and you can have that conversation with your art and with yourself. Um, even if you don’t know

Barbara (40:53):

Even if you don’t know why though. Cause the same person that says I can’t draw is going to say, well, that’s ugly. Why? I don’t know. It just is right. You hear that all the time. Mm-hmm <affirmative> why are they leaving their artwork with you? It might be to share their creative spirit or it might be because they don’t wanna look at why they made that.

Lauren (41:15):

Yeah. That’s I think that’s a really, really good point. Yes. Yes.

Barbara (41:19):

Why is just as scary as picking up that pencil and doodling?

Barbara (41:24):

Why is scary?

Lauren (41:24):

Scary? The why? I think the, why is scarier, you know, to be honest, I think that, um, I think a lot of people are like, okay, they, they will succumb to the peer pressure. I’m thinking of our events and they’ll, they’ll find they’ll do it. And then, um, and then they’ll, then they won’t do the, they don’t wanna do the rest of it. Right. Because that’s the that’s even scarier. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, that’s the, that’s when the that’s when the real work comes in. Um, but you have to, you really do. You have to be willing to talk about all of it. And, and a lot of people don’t wanna have like a full conversation. They wanna have like a quarter of a conversation <affirmative> but it’s a really good start. It’s a really good start. And maybe you’ll have that conversation in private. Maybe you’ll leave that art there, but maybe you’ll pick up a sketchbook and you’ll, and you’ll start writing in it or, or doodling in it. And then you can slowly have that conversation with yourself. It’s better than not having that conversation at all. You know.

Barbara (42:29):

Just like that guy that walked out of his session with me because he wasn’t ready to go the why, the why and why, you know, but it caused him to think, you know, and so they may leave their artwork with you, but they’re gonna think about it, you know, they’re gonna think about what they made and maybe they’ll learn something. Maybe they won’t, but they’re gonna think about it. And those that have the strength to think are the ones that have the strength to discover the why.

Lauren (43:03):

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. Awesome. Wow. Yeah. I could talk to you all day about this. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it. And thanks. Um, yeah, I love what you do.

Barbara (43:15):

Thanks guys.