When I was doing my masters study, there was a course being offered in Art Therapy that I wanted to do but it kept getting cancelled. So I did some independent research on art as a method to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as I had been dismissive of it as a therapeutic tool and wanted to investigate further. Its seems though that art does assist some people and I think this must be in line with artists for whom art is cathartic.
I like the idea of artists creating for no one but themselves, because something needs got out or purged. In fact, in my few endeavours in art this has been my motivation – a total compulsion for an image/idea/thought/concept/feeling to take on a physical body.
I have been personally deeply disturbed this week by the stories about Tony Vietch. Of course there is no tie in with art (that I know of) but it reminded me of art that expresses violence and of art as a reaction to it. On the ‘net you will find various art programmes and exhibitions showing art therapy as a way through violence. A reasonable essay on Art and Violence (with pics) can be found here (.pdf)
And, as usual, someone else has said some of what I want to say here in an article by Agricola de Cologne.
“Artists are said to be the consciousness of a nation or society as they reflect the actual state of the psychological and physical environment. When this state is penetrated by violence, nobody is surprised that violence becomes a universal subject for artistic reflection. Art and violence both seem to stem from the abstract: that place beyond logic, the realm of the emotion. … Is violence a tool, a process or a result? When are artistic portrayals of violence justifiable? As intellectual exercise, ritual, or spiritual enhancement? For other purposes? Or are they never justifiable? Is violence in art an action, reaction, or reflection? ”
I was thinking about how to illustrate this post and recalled Tracey Moffat’s work. A lot of what I’ve seen has implicit and explicit depictions of “everyday violence” with a rather sinister undercurrent. “Scarred for Life” is what I am meaning.