Healing Trauma Through Art: The Transformative Power of Art
“The artist is inclined to believe that ‘mind can triumph over matter’ because they often feel that their inner realm is certainly more important and often more real to them than the outer physical world.” – Peter Morrel
In my early forties, I went through an existential crisis; things had to change or cease. Simply put, I cracked open and had to carve a new way. In the following essay, I describe my process with materials and how my vision got formed and eventually materialized. I tell a story of healing from trauma, centered but not exclusively, through making art. For some of us, art is the only path to a sense of freedom; some call it salvation.
Narrative Art tells a story. It generally describes a self-explanatory event from daily life or those drawn from religion, folk tales, myth, and history. Examples of Narrative Art go back to cave paintings from the Bronze Age. The movement of Abstract Art, which came into fashion in the 20th century, rejected and rebelled against familiar narrative themes, branding this work as mediocre and unimaginative. Yet, coded references to events in the artist’s life or political issues were still common. Such artworks require information from the artist to be fully understood.
I have had an active internal dialogue about making and appreciating art for as long as I can remember. As a child, I observed my mother selecting and cutting design patterns from fashion magazines, making color and fabric selections, and sewing, bringing gorgeous and stylish outfits to life. Through those years, I absorbed the lesson of the detailed attention required to complete these creations. I developed a keen eye towards esthetics and an open attitude toward beauty’s multiple forms and shapes. Two of my mother’s sisters were also involved in the creative process – one painted, and the other made collages. In my youth, I painted, and I loved it. So, maybe making art runs in my blood.
Only after years of pursuing a different kind of creativity – business and financial security – I returned to making visual art. In 2003, the high-tech market conditions changed, and I closed Telesys Enterprises, a circuit card distribution company. It was a challenging period in my personal life, and I felt ready to face some demons that needed to be tamed. Intuitively, I knew that I would find some peace and, hopefully, some relief in the process of making art. Fifteen years later, I can attest that the time devoted to the craft of making art was pivotal in my healing process. In making art, I was not merely seeking the real nor the unreal, but rather the unconscious, the mysterious layers of self, and the profound shift that comes with being awake.
During my business career, I visited electronics circuit card manufacturers worldwide and consulted with engineers about design issues and the selection of electronic components. Circuit cards themselves are works of beauty. The particular arrangement of electronic components is a design marvel. The intricate systems of assembly lines that produce anything from a smartphone to a guided missile rocket always filled me with wonder. Thus, I had the disposition towards incorporating technology into my creative process. I also felt inspired by the Light and Space art movement, which originated in Southern California in the 1960s. The movement was influenced by cutting-edge materials of post-WWII, such as fiberglass and resins. Its style was abstract and minimalist and often had a slick and glossy finish. I dove into exploring different media, enrolled in various art classes at Santa Monica College, and attended multiple workshops.