IEATA conference in Peru

This summer We Are Mosaics offered a workshop, Mosaics as an Expressive Arts Therapy:  From Broken to Beautiful at the first International Expressive Arts conference in Peru. This workshop focused on the flow of magic that allows for an international professional adult group of 40 participants to design and construct a mosaic mural. “I found a sense of community I have been looking for many years as I work at home alone,  said Paco.” Another participant spoke of how she was very skeptical that a group of strangers could work together, ” It was a Magical facilitation.”  many thanks to all the participants and assistants. We had a blast. The final mosaics will be installed at TAE, the Expressive Arts Institute in Lima, Peru

Paolo Knill and Responsive Leadership

I had the great pleasure of participating in the CAGS program at EGS this past summer.  I was enriched by many classes and people and one that stands out was the Art of Leadership facilitated by Paolo Knill. His description and facilitation of relational and responsive leadership touched me and connected me to what inspires me to work with people and art. The relationships and the connections that the subtle intimacies of art give, show me how to be in my flesh of voice. When I am in the flesh of my voice I am comfortable and open. I recommend this workshop below and I recommend finding Paolo and asking him about how to find the flesh of your voice.

Liberating Creativity: Courage to Lead

Conference featuring Shaun McNiff and Paolo Knill

Sensitization and Authenticity

Am I dots or lines?

The photograph above symbolizes authenticity; Am I dots or lines?

Being authentic, like finding one’s truth, can be unshakeable and yet mutable in response to a new experience. In my practice I link the Expressive Arts pedagogy with my authentic style of therapy. I understand EA’s framework of sensitizing to relate to my sense of warm up, warming up my clients to decenter or step into a liminal, loving and trusting space for healing to occur. Likewise, the Expressive Arts help formulate my authentic therapuetic supervision style as well.  I find that there are numerous ways to sensitize people in order to help facilitate a safe environment for therapy.


For the Joy of the Jump

Connection through Body Art

Body art has been around for as far as I can see any how.

This body art piece is about pregnancy, birth and midwifery.

I am again reminded how art making is bonding, is attachment,  and is intimacy.

Making art with each other, around each other  and on each other brings me a calm not a fear.

Often times my clients ask “how can I decrease my anxiety, or increase a sense of well-being.” And often times I ask myself these very questions.

Over the last 10 plus years I have tracked this question for myself and for others.  The red thread I see is connecting.  Connecting through both expression and communication.

Expressive Arts Therapy can promote connection versus answers; a power within verses a power over a struggle or conflict. A space where relationships and responsibilities are seen and felt.  Soon we will be in Peru exploring such issues as multiplicity and uncertainty.

IEATA International Conference in Lima, Peru – August 2011

Getting excited about hopefully presenting at the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association International Conference in Lima, Peru this August 2011.

Check out

Power Animal and Expressive Arts

We have been facilitating an Expressive Arts group that starts with the ceremony and ritual of a  shamanic journey to find and converse with the power animal that most relates to your present life. We then create art as an aesthetic response to the shamanic journey.

Above is a picture of the journey to find one person’s eagle guide and below is an image of one person’s turtle guide. In the journey you are able to ask your power animal what they see that can help or support you and/or a loved one.  After the journey and the aesthetic art response, we write about the image and the journey. What words describe the animal and the journey? What did the opening to go into the underworld, or liminal space look like? Then we sit in council and share our sacred experience.

This Expressive Arts group helps us to foster a deeper relationship with our animal kin.  Through ceremony and ritual shamanic journey work I have learned how decentering into liminal space to relate with my power animal can provide me with a more calm pace and a bigger heart for healing.

The Responsibility to Protect Cote d’Ivoire is Now

A few weeks after the Ivorian people cast their votes in a peaceful nationwide presidential election with results certified by national and international monitors, the country is rapidly descending into chaos and possibly massive violence.

Calls from all corners of the planet in favour of a peaceful resolution to the standoff between Alassane Ouattara, widely recognized as the winner of the elections, and Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent President, who contests the election results, are falling on deaf ears. As both sides dig in their heels, the possibilities of a renewed civil war are real.

In February 2004, the international community sent a very strong message to this country when, at the request of President Gbagbo, it authorized the deployment of  a United Nations peace-keeping operation “ONUCI” which today has a troop strength of over 9,000 soldiers, with a mandate  “to protect civilians under threat.”

The UN and members of the UN Security Council are still bound by this mandate. The Ivorian people are desperately awaiting a clear sign from the United Nations Security Council that they will not be let down.  A first sign has been sent to them with the decision by theUN  Security Council to extend ONUCI’s mandate by six months starting 1 January 2011.  Nevertheless, they are waiting for the international community to prevent the situation from deteriorating further and for measures to be taken to protect them from a bloody tragedy.

It is not enough for the UN Security Council to call another emergency meeting and reaffirm its commitment to the ONUCI mission.  It should take all necessary measures to stop the violence by ordering the cantonment of the army, banning all armed militias, prohibiting public demonstrations and marches and giving ONUCI the mandate to enforce these measures and any others required to protect civilians under threat.

There is no time to waste—the Responsibility to Protect the Ivorian people is Now.

Review of Art Heals

Art Heals by Shaun McNiff highlights two important stages in the history of Art Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy. The first is that our work involves us, the therapists.  We are not strictly observers documenting and analyzing another’s process, but rather therapeutic participants.  Secondly, Art Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy is a combination the new and old of cultures and people’s experiences through artistic traditions.

People from various cultures can relate to the enduring shaman, a role that was revered in the past and still is today.  Similarly, people from various cultures can relate to the world of the creative arts.  One of the ways a shaman works is to go into the unknown in order to balance out the rhythm of life; likewise creativity embraces an inward journey to achieve the same.  When I gather discarded materials to create a mosaic or the shaman gathers fragments of one’s soul, we are both seeking to reinstate health through the process. “Shamanism is more likely to come to art and healing through image than through the therapist’s desire to be a shaman” (198). Shamanism can be a safe space for the creative arts to be researched in a respectful and complimentary atmosphere. “The generative powers of a creative expression need to be fed with a corresponding consciousness which appreciates and keeps their mysteries (28).”


Voice with Terri Chester

Voice workshop with Expressive Arts Therapist Terri Chester, wow what a decentering experience. I was guided into  an alternative world of imagination through the use of voice. My authentic voice was given room and support to relate with others. First she facilitated many warm ups, and embodied the work with body scans and body reflections.  We then participated in vocal tapestries and I actually spent fifteen minutes straight singing by myself. Terri showed me connections between art, poetry, and voice vibration. We did vocal responses and shaped certain tapestries. I feel voice to be a corner-stone to the Expressive Arts. Oral traditions meet artistic traditions.

I chose the image of a mosaic turtle below as I feel its story symbolizes a song beyond an image. the turtle’s story is voiced on and I want a song for the turtle.


Many times words serve as a point of reflection into our heart, and many times art is needed to express yet another dimension of the deep feeling behind a human experience.  For me working with mosaics supports the understanding that there are many pieces to the puzzle of life. These pieces are composed of various shapes, textures, colors, and size, and speak to the awareness of finding the complement through the existence of the other.   Mosaics sublimate the journey of life through embracing the myriad paths of our individual and collective destinies.  The embrace is demonstrated through the relationship with the art object simultaneously serving as a metaphor for the world and the soul. I have found the journey of the art materials mirroring the evolution of our consciousness; they begin in one form, are broken down or change shape, and then come together in the end as one.  The mosaic process is that of patience and guidance, letting the pieces show you where they need to be placed, thus allowing for an organic creation.  Each individual will be drawn to create certain patterns that the world of the psyche(soul) can understand, and art celebrates this unique expression.  When I create a mosaic I feel connected to my soul, the earth, and the hearts of others.

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