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ART + PSYCHOLOGY = A LOT OF FUN

by Daniel Kroft

A few weeks ago I had a pleasant surprise at school (however improbable that may seem). I walked into my Hebrew class, as always, but was greeted at the door not by my teacher as always, but by an Israeli woman I had never seen before. She was short, with curly brown hair and a friendly smile. She wore big red glasses and a colourful dress. And when I stepped into the room, I realized that the classroom had been completely transformed. All of the desks had been pushed to the center of the room, now covered by an enormous piece of white drawing paper. The same paper was also placed along the edge of the class, all the way around. I stood with the rest of the students at the front of the room, looking around at this strange new environment.  

After a few minutes of excited and confused chatter, the Israeli woman positioned herself in front of us and drew our attention to herself. She explained that her name was Yehudit Siano, and she was an art therapist in Israel. Our curiosity now engaged, we listened as she told us that art and psychology were actually quite closely connected: that sometimes what you draw, even if it be completely arbitrary, can reveal something about yourself. As an example, Yehudit asked us to each walk around the room in a different way – as silly as we wished. Her only condition was that we must be aware of what we were doing. After completing the silly circuit, Yehudit handed us each a pastel crayon, and asked us now to draw the path in which we walked: if we had skipped, draw a dotted line; if we had spun in circles, draw a loop-de-loop. We preformed this exercise willingly, and with it realized just how important it was to be aware in art. 

After the preliminary activity, we were asked to draw a chair up to the center table, upon which the large piece of white paper was draped. We were told to keep our pastels with us, and write our name, very simply, in our own space on the paper. Now, she said, draw a frame around your name. So, of course, we did. Now came the especially fun part. After being handed each a small yogurt container filled with paint, Yehudit pointed to one of us, saying: “Take your paint and draw a line between your name and someone else’s. You may climb on the table if you want.”

Of course we all jumped at the chance to climb on top of the desks, and so we each took a turn drawing a line to another person, with some twists and turns along the way. Once this fun exercise was completed, Yehudit asked us to stand back and take a look at the previously blank paper, now filled with coloured lines. It looked quite good. “Now how would you like to colour it in?”

After the paper was filled with all sorts of wonderful colours, we stood on our chairs and each took a turn explaining what we had learned about ourselves. The overall message of the class was that we learned that with a little bit of creativity, and a little self-awareness, something truly can come of nothing.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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