Expressive Arts Focusing - Creative Compassion Blog January 8, 2023 ©Freda Blob
Art is a pathway to Relational Empathy when worst trauma is sealing us down. Art is a bridge to life saving connectedness. Art, even coming along as imaginative art, is an act of living.
Late in life I dream of a fellow prisoner in a concentration camp secretly passing over to me a drawing as a reminder that no matter what, we are not alone. Passing it over he risks his life.
The scenery never happend to me in life. How come that my dream force puts me at a place like this with a stranger from the men's camp offering me a gift of love?
His picture shows his face on a piece of wrapping paper. It is created roughly with chalk crumbs (in the primary colors of yellow, red and blue). The picture is small enough to be carried under my cloth. It has been created just for this.
Carrying it around at women's camp I feel less frightened. The man's self protrait is like a true friend encouraging me not to give up.
The scenery designed from my dream force is offering information on how to break free from aesthetic trauma.
What do I mean by 'aesthetic trauma'?
Constant background freelings can speak of trauma very hard to grasp as no trauma event has happened. Atmospheres of our surrounding can hold something we react to with trauma response because something has happened and it happend not to us.
We are aesthetic animals. Our senses are an open system to all kinds of environmental aesthetic input, input of the current situation and input from across generations. These aesthetic inputs can hold trauma material we bodily respond to.
I am sleeping in the family room (the couch is my bed for 16 years) looking up at a hudge oil painting in a golden frame hanging at the wall. The picture is showing a dark landscape painted in wild strokes.
I am a school kid. Waking up at night I have to turn away from the picture. It is frightening. Waves of anxiety are flooding me. Comfort through caregivers is out of reach.
My coping strategy is to let my eyes slide along the patterns of the persian carpet on the floor. Those patterns are real, colorful and repetitive. At the edge of the carpet they go on and on like an endless caravan, defining a rectangle. The rectangle of the carpet is serving as a holding container.
The patterns are showing marks I decide to be little animals.
The animal shapes are helpers. They allow to escape to a space of imagination that is friendly (they put me to a desert under the sun). Out there they are getting alive. They become living creatures carrying me on their backs.
I follow the marks with my eyes as if painting them in detail. I do repetetive imaginative painting. I am on escape road calming myself down with an imaginative brush on threads of indian yellow, red and blue.
I am a young adult when my father reveals that the picture has not been purchased. The oil painting has been produced by one of the family hobby artists (there were two). It was the biggest painting of the family artwork and it differed in style.
My greatuncle painted the picture shortly before he shot himself with a pistol. He had been a pharmacist and a respectable city council in Nazi German, painting for leisure. He was excluded from city council and decided to divorce from his wife to keep his pharmacy but was expropriated. About the same time his spouse was deported.
Decades later I realize that my body has felt the overall Befindlichkeit of my ancestor and the tragic turn of his life as a strong background feeling of horror. It has been implicit in the art aesthetics, invading my body.
My body wisdom has served me wonderfully at that time. It has helped to find ressources in ornamentic art craft bridging to the good.