Art Therapist’s Exhibition:

Hope & Fear: Using Art Therapy to Cope in Times of Transition

Art Therapists respond to the current economic-social-political climate, and how this has impacted them both personally and professionally, as they use art to help clients of all ages who may be struggling with hopelessness, fear, and anxiety as it relates to changes in leadership and policy, on a personal and collective level.

Closing Reception held Friday July 28, 2017

In addition to showcasing how art therapists themselves utilize the visual arts to process their own experiences, this exhibition will showcase two- and three-dimensional works, featuring a variety of media to illustrate the wide scope of materials and activities used in art therapy practice in general. The show will be co-sponsored by local professional support alliance for art therapists, Art Therapy Buffalo, as well as the Western New York Art Therapy Association (WNYATA), a local chapter of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

The !Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, which has the intersection of art and social change at the heart of its mission, is now expanding that focus to include Art Therapy! We are doing so to embrace a larger audience and Art Therapy fits well with our mission and will further provide an outlet for the conversations that must happen in these challenging times. Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Rachel Sikorski, LCAT, ATR-BC, will now join Orin Langelle in co-directing the gallery. Rachel has been operating her private practice in the building that houses the gallery since 2015. While the work of therapy is private and the visual art created in sessions with individuals of all ages is done so to help them express experiences often to difficult to capture with words alone, having the opportunity to share one’s experience can be equally therapeutic and validating. It seemed fitting to collaborate at this point in time, as the gallery space is one that allows for open dialogue, advocacy, and connecting to visual representations of personal and collective experiences.

“Rachel is providing a new outlook into the future of the role art takes in coping with these times, and how it can be integrated into a healing process,” said Orin Langelle, gallery co-directer. He continued, “I find it extremely ironic that Karen Pence, wife of Vice-President Michael Pence, has chosen Art Therapy as a cause she is backing. It seems peculiar that the VP’s wife is backing something that can be used to help people deflect the hurt coming from the White House.”

Art therapists themselves have been struggling to manage the joy of increased visibility highlighting the value of their profession as a result of Mrs. Pence’s advocacy efforts, while also keeping in mind that the policies of the administration of which she is a part is largely at odds with the ethical principles that guide their professional practice, most importantly as it relates to non-discrimination and service to diverse communities. “We hope that this exhibition, as well as merging art therapy with the mission of !Buen Vivir! will serve as a springboard for dialogue and advocacy efforts as it relates to these issues.

About Art Therapy: Post-election, many Art Therapists have been trying to find ways to express our frustrations or concerns, and find hope while treading in a sea of the unknown, no matter our political affiliation. Similarly, helping professionals of all sorts have been faced with the task of helping clients deal with fears and anxiety than have arisen when they think about what changes may come, and what impact this can have on them, those they care about, or communities in need. Art therapists are one such example, mental health professionals in the business of assisting individuals with their fears, helping them build an stronger sense of choice and control. They do this by relying on the power of art making to give a visual “voice” to their concerns, to make meaning, to create a dialogue that can lead to a greater understanding of oneself, and of the other.

The timing of the exhibition and the changes at !Buen Vivir! will coincide with Buffalo’s Pride Festival and the 60th annual Allentown Arts Festival, a when communities come together to celebrate and international traveler come to our city, and in particular the diverse Allentown area. “We believe this is an excellent opportunity for art therapists – and in the future, our clients – to showcase the impact of what art therapy can do.”