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Visualising Emotions – Iniva Creative Learning

Each month Iniva Creative Learning post some handy tips for using the images on our Emotional Learning Cards in a variety of settings and circumstances. This month we focus on a practical exercise for using the cards as a means to better understand our emotions. 

Often our difficulty around positively dealing with emotions stems from our inability to recognise them in the first place. Contemporary art contains an almost unlimited range of unusual and emotive images. As such they can help us to articulate and visualise our emotional responses. 

Create your own Emotional Learning Card

  • Start by looking through a number of different Cards. Discuss the imagery within the Cards and think about what emotions the images evoke. 
  • What is it about the image that suggests the emotion? Think about the colours used in the image, the placing of bodies and/or objects. Is there a story or a situation that the image suggests which evokes the particular emotional response?
  • Leading on from the discussion, it’s time to create your own Emotional Learning Card. Decide on an emotion you want to represent. This decision may be governed by your particular situation (i.e. if there is an issue with anger management you might decide to explore anger as an emotion). 
  • Cut out a coloured card the same size and shape as an Emotional Learning Card.  Thinking back to the discussion you had around the Cards decide how to visually represent the chosen image. Will it be through collage, drawing and/or painting? Will it be representative or metaphorical, realistic or surreal? You may want to write text or use lyrics from a song or a poem, either embedded within the image or written on the back of each card. 
In making the card you have in effect “created” a representation” of that particular emotion. The young adult will have been given the freedom, in a positive, safe and creative environment to explore and examine the emotion and so will be able to recognise and better respond to it in the future. During the activity you will no doubt be in conversation with the young adult. Take advantage of this, asking questions and prompting them to articulate their responses through words as much as through the image-making.
Once the image is complete its important that it is kept and treasured- throwing it away will not send out a good message! You may want to put it in a scrap book or hang it on a wall and you may want to refer back to it at some point in the future.
You can buy our Emotional Learning Cards on our website, as well as download free resources that give suggestions for other practical activity. Visit our Store

Creative Learning Through Art

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