The Fake Child Artists of Gaza?

A blogger who calls himself Elder of Ziyon alleges that a traveling exhibition of children’s artwork depicting “A Child’s View of Gaza” made during art therapy sessions, are in fact not drawn by children at all. He lays out his case:

  1. The quality of the artwork does not correspond to the age of the child who drew the picture.
    • But no age was listed in the displayed photos.
  2. Experts all agree that the artwork looks as though it was created by adults.
    • But the names of those experts are not included in the post.
  3. These drawings were created during art therapy sessions.
    • But no art therapist(s) are named as the facilitator.
  4. The artwork is not signed, which is a strange thing for a child to do.
    • Maybe. But, there maybe a cultural reason for this, or another reason – ie: the art therapist asked that they not sign their artwork for confidentiality purposes. After all, this exhibit is a traveling one.

Does anyone have any information on the art therapist(s) involved in this exhibit? I wrote an email to CJPME, the organization hosting this event, asking for more information.

To Elder of Ziyon: Your claims maybe true. But, you need to post your sources when making such claims to add credibility to what you’re saying. Who are the experts you consulted? Why not consult an art therapist? How did you find out the age of the child who created the artwork?

Interesting Art Therapy Related Project on Kickstarter

Gabrielle Wenonah Wriborg is hoping to get funding for her self-illustration project on Kickstarter.

So you can make an informed decision about her project, Zenobia and the Seven Curses, I asked her to explain how this project came about and how she thinks this tool would be helpful within an art therapy session.

When I first walked into my therapist’s office, I was drowning in a sea of depression so vast I could no longer see the shoreline. That day she became a lighthouse far off in the distance; thus began my swim to a shore that did not yet exist. She soon determined that I had post-traumatic stress disorder due to the numerous trauma inducing events I had experienced during my lifetime. We tried a variety of therapeutic methods, but in my opinion, the most helpful was art therapy, because it uncovered thoughts, feelings, and memories that did not surface through dialoguing and journaling. The use of art as a therapeutic tool made my thoughts, feelings, and memories visible which in turn made them tangible. This tangibility made it possible for me to explore, accept, and eventually cope with these concepts. I fondly remember kneeling on my kitchen floor over long sheets of craft paper and pots of paints documenting my childhood traumas in vibrant colors or sitting in therapy sessions creating
intricate mandalas representing my inner emotions of the moment. I still uncover these artifacts of my healing from time to time and marvel at their intense emotional symbolism and remember how each of these made that metaphorical shoreline slowly come into view.

After many years of therapy, I started working on my Bachelor’s degree. It was during my junior year that I wrote an autobiographical fairy tale for my Women’s Studies class as a final project titled “Gabrielle and the Seven Curses: A Suburban Fairy Tale.” It tells the fantastical story of how I was cursed, the traumatic events I endured due to the curses, and how I found my happily ever after through therapy. Part of the final grade was to present the project to the class. That was the first time I told my
story to a stranger, let alone a room full of them. I was terrified, but afterwards, I felt a sense of relief, accomplishment, and most importantly, a sense of closure. For years, I wanted to do something more with the story, because I knew it was a powerful tale of survival. In 2010, I started turning the fairy tale
into a comic book. I changed the title to “Zenobia and the Seven Curses” and began to rewrite the story. I kept the basic framework, but I changed the names of the innocent and the not so innocent and added more colorful descriptions and created illustrations. This version remains unfinished, but it was one step closer to the present incarnation of the fairy tale.

Last summer I started working on my M.Ed. in Mathematics education. At that time I was also creating a bi-weekly digital comic strip and working on a series of self-portraits using photography as my medium. Then one day, I could not create. I had an artist’s block, and this loss of creativity lasted for months on end. As I suffered creatively, Zenobia came back into my thoughts as she often does when I feel sad. Around the same time, I became enamored with Kickstarter, an internet based crowd-funding platform for creative projects. The two thoughts became enmeshed. I realized instead of illustrating the story, I should allow the reader to illustrate the story, and I could raise the money to publish the “illustrate-it” book through Kickstarter. It originally occurred to me that this would be an excellent tool for artists who were suffering creative blocks like I was, because it is a guided sketchbook. Then I realized, due to the subject matter, it would be extremely beneficial in an art therapy setting with PTSD patients like myself or any variety of survivors.

While I am not an art therapist and my only real experience with art therapy is as a patient, I really think that other patients would benefit from “Zenobia and the Seven Curses” because they would be able to relate to the subject matter. The seven curses that Zenobia suffers and ultimately survives are seven types of traumatic events with which many patients would be able to connect. Furthermore, I feel “Zenobia and the Seven Curses” could help a patient feel some form of companionship through the therapeutic process. Besides occasionally being in a group therapy setting, I often felt alone in my therapy because no matter how hard they tried, my friends and family had no clue what I was really going through. It would have been nice to have had the reassurance of a peer like Zenobia, even if she was fictional. Since much of my trauma was based in my childhood, I think the fact that this story is written in the style of a fairy tale, it speaks to my inner child, Little Gabi, as my therapist often referred
to her. Therefore, I truly feel “Zenobia and the Seven Curses” could really help art therapy patients as they traverse the often murky process of healing.

“Zenobia and the Seven Curses” follows Zenobia DeHaven-Reynard from birth through her early adulthood. Shortly after her birth, Zenobia is bestowed six blessings by the Fair Matriarchs and seven curses by the Not-So-Fair Matriarchs of her family. Zenobia begins her suffering at the tender age of three with the curse of innocence lost due to an unknown early childhood trauma understood to be of a sexual nature. A year later she suffers the curse of a witch which represents separation of parents, specifically due to infidelity on the part of her father. At the age of five she suffers the curse of fire where she narrowly escapes a house fire which destroys everything inside the home. She then enters her early teenage years and suffers the curse of silence which is invoked by being sexually abused by a trusted family friend. Around the same time period, she suffers the curse of poison which symbolizes drug addiction. She also suffers the curse of failing health due to a congenital heart defect which leads to open-heart surgery. Finally she enters early adulthood and suffers the curse of a loveless union where she finds herself living in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship which is steeped in drug and alcohol abuse. She eventually finds her way into therapy, learns how to cope with her curses, and ultimately finds her version of happily ever after.

I launched the “Zenobia and the Seven Curses” project on Kickstarter on June 11. The project is running for 42 days, ending on July 23. Kickstarter is an all or nothing funding platform. My goal is to raise $3500 in order to print 500 copies of the finished book. There are donation levels ranging from $1 to $1000. Every donation is rewarded with items related to the book. If the project is successful, I am donating 50 books to the organization through which I received therapy services, SAFE Homes Rape Crisis Coalition of Spartanburg, SC. They will be using these copies in their therapy program with current and future patients. There are donation levels which allow project backers to donate extra copies to this same organization. I have already started laying out the book. Every odd page is blank yet framed for the purposes of illustration. It looks like the final product will be a paperback book about 50 pages in length with the dimensions of 8 x 10 inches. You can find more information on my website or on the project page.

Make Your Own Combat Paper

Congratulations to the Combat Paper Project for their featured segment on PBS NewsHour! They’re doing such amazing work with our Veterans!

Here’s a step by step tutorial on how to make your own Combat Paper – AKA paper made from fabric:

Watch Making Your Own ‘Combat Paper’: A Step-by-Step Tutorial on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

And, in case you missed it, here’s a portion of the broadcast that aired yesterday:

Watch Combat Paper: Veterans Battle War Demons With Paper-Making on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

VOTE for Arts Funding at Children’s Hospital of Oakland

The Artist-in-Residence and Art Therapies at Children’s Oakland applied for funding from LIVESTRONG to implement a program proven to support those fighting cancer. And their application has been selected to advance to the final stage (!!!) – a vote by the broader community.

The organizations receiving the most votes within their regions will be awarded funds, materials and training to implement a new program for Oakland Children’s Hospital – The Creative Center’s Hospital Artists in-Residence Program! This program will be offered free of charge to enhance quality of life for cancer patients.

> Vote now!

The deadline to vote is March 23rd at 5pm CST

Group Art Therapy Not Found to Be Helpful in Schizophrenia

An example of how headlines can be misleading, because as it turns out the results of a study published in the British Journal of Medicine show that no intervention improved the outcomes of the subjects who suffered from Schizophrenia. Those who received standard care, standard care + weekly group art therapy or standard care + activity groups had the same outcomes.

People offered a place in an art therapy group were more likely to attend sessions than those offered a place in an activity group, but levels of attendance at both types of group were low.

Well…I would like to know what the results are for the people who did attend the weekly art therapy sessions vs those who weren’t assigned to art therapy or those who were assigned but simply didn’t come. Maybe art therapy does have a positive effect for those who are organized enough to make it there. Perhaps group attendance (and therefore outcomes) would have been more successful if members had extra support to show up to their out-patient groups.

Many groups had only one or two regular attendees, with an average of two or three people attending art therapy groups. Although this meant that therapists may have been able to pay greater attention to each participant than would have been possible in a larger group, opportunities for group members to interact with each other were more limited.

If many groups have only one or two people, it doesn’t sound like this study successfully evaluated group art therapy and its effects on socialization. And, if it’s so difficult to get a community-based group together that’s comprised of more than 2 people, it maybe worthwhile to refer (and study) those diagnosed with Schizophrenia to a group with a variety of diagnoses.

It’s also worth mentioning that art therapy is more than just an activity. Even if no increases in social functioning or mental health was detected, art therapists also are trained to monitor their clients. Oftentimes signs that a client maybe relapsing show up in the artwork first. Art therapy has more value than simply improving mental health functioning – it’s a first line defense to encourage a client to seek help from a Psychiatrist, for example, before things get out of control. Or perhaps, the art therapist may find out that a client stopped taking his medication all together. Either way, as a part of an overall out-patient treatment team, the art therapist can provide essential information to other mental health practitioners and social workers re: what is going on with the client before things fall apart.

Put that in your research and study it! Seriously. I’d love to see the outcomes.

Apple Store + Liz Beck = iPad demo!!

Wow! Join me for a FREE experiential with the iPad at the Union Square Apple store on Saturday Feb 4th from 3-4pm!

This is a follow-up to my presentation at Fort Mason on Jan 29th, and will be 90% experiential. Come play with the iPad and make art. There’ll be Apple support staff there to help answer any technical related questions, and I’ll be there to answer art therapy related questions too!

Check out the Facebook Event to RSVP.

Bobby Baker’s 11-Year Visual Diary

The road to catharsis & healing—

Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me features 711 drawings by performance artist Bobby Baker after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Breast Cancer. Read more about it on the Atlantic and you can purchase Bobby’s book through Amazon.

But even more fascinating, is the Guardian’s slideshow by Bobby Baker about her art work and her journey. Bobby baker diary audio slideshow

Hat tip: Sara Windrem—thank you!