One to two times a week, our girls participate in Open Studio. This is an unstructured, self-directed time where the students can work on their own projects in Art, Music, or Dance. What we are finding is that even though the girls aren’t obligated to do therapeutic or insight-oriented work in Open Studio, important themes tend to arise.
Here is a photo of one of our students experimenting with watercolors and breath (note the pink straw in her right hand). She places a small puddle of watercolor on the page, then blows at it with the straw. As I watch her, she seems to be most interested in the way that the paint breaks up and chases across the page. I think she would tell you that she is “just messing around.”
But, knowing this student as I do, I wonder about the idea of pathways, multiple endings that can come from one beginning, and possibilities. Many of our students spend their early months at La Europa contemplating whether their past life and their past decisions will really help them in the future. This kind of art-making is a wonderful way for a student’s mind to process these possibilities and explore questions such as, “Where do I go from here?”
Better yet, they feel like they are “just messing around,” hanging out with their friends, and enjoying some time in the art room. I am not telling them what to create, but I am carefully observing. All the while, their artwork speaks volumes to me about where they are in this process.
I love working with these students. They are so creative and I learn so much from them every day!
–Malissa Morrell, ATR-BC (Board-Certified Art Therapist)