Iniva Creative Learning’s first blog post is written by Co-founder, Lyn French. Lyn is an art therapist, counsellor and psychoanalytic psychotherapist and Director of A Space, Hackney, East London.
How contemporary art can open up emotional exploration with young people
If they were to give it any thought at all, many young people would probably make common assumptions about why artists make art and what they draw their inspiration from. They might imagine artists have unexpected flashes of insight or that they have what we would call ‘a grand narrative’ in mind. Interest and curiosity can be sparked when young people realise that artists are simply trying to communicate what it’s like to be human, that is, their take on what it’s like to be alive to the complexities, pleasures, issues and ambiguities of everyday life and to capture ‘felt experiences’ which might be hard to put into words.
Contemporary artists have a real advantage – they’re reflecting on, commenting about and generally de-coding or de-constructing today’s world. Even if artists choose to focus on overtly social or political themes, their personal and emotional experiences will be embedded in their work either consciously or unconsciously. It is not necessary – or even relevant – for us as viewers to know the precise feeling state of the artist. Instead, to borrow a phrase from psychoanalysis, we can look at an image, object, photograph or installation and ‘freely associate’. The aim of free association is not to work something out through logical analysis. Instead, we let go of self-censorship or judgement or the need to ‘have the right answer’ or the ‘accepted point of view’ and allow our own associations, ideas, feelings, questions and impressions float to the surface. Looking at art is, at its core, a relational experience. In another words, we evolve our own relationship with the work through discovering meaning in it that is particular to us. Ideas and thoughts make a lasting impact, when we can engage with their emotional content or when we are moved or touched or agitated or stimulated in some way.
This is just an extract, read the full article on the Iniva Creative Learning website
Find out about Iniva’s Emotional Learning Cards