Art of Survival: Women, Healing, and the Arts
This publication focuses on art as a source of self-knowledge and transformation for women at large and for survivors of abuse in particular. It gathers humanist essays, poetry, and seventy-two works of art, bringing together five disciplines: philosophy, visual studies, art history and criticism, women's studies, and counseling. It emphasizes the views that life and human sensitivity fuel art and that those searching for meanings in their lives find them and ways to express them through art. This volume reflects on art as experience. It grounds art making in the lived experiences of women. It ponders the universal role of art making and self-reflection in the well being of the human spirit, while the art works reveal the particular experiences of women artists and survivors of abuse. In summary, this publication is not about objects of art, but about their makers. It does not present an overview of contemporary art, but it presents women's thoughts about their works. It is about creativity and power of the human spirit to endure and to survive. This publication leads from general to particular, from universal to personal and from broad social problems to individual struggles. It begins with an essay on the role of community and art making in the well-being of individuals. It is followed by an essay on how we make sense of life and what a creative process involves. An essay about quilts shows us that throughout history quilts have been powerful ways of personal storytelling and a creative outlet for women. There are two essays by counselors who work with survivors of violence and trauma. One reflects on the broad social context of abuse of women. The other tells personal stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of art making in healing. Another essay offers a walk-through works by one artist, interpreting them from a feminist perspective. The volume concludes with a list of warning signs of abusive behavior. I hope this publication will enable readers to see themselves in the constructive light of human creativity.