It is exciting to finally make this post and announce that the Art Therapy Alliance’s first ever Artist Trading Card (ATC) exchange was a huge success! Yay! Over 200 cards came in from 50 art therapists and art therapy students who are part of our Materials and Media in Art Therapy community on LinkedIn. Art therapists and students who contributed were from 17 states across the US (Michigan, Texas, California, Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Maryland, Colorado, Virginia, New York, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota) and there were also some participants from Canada (Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia). Today all ATCs received by the postmarked deadline were “swapped out” and will be mailed to their new homes via the USPS mail this week. During this last week I also worked on making everyone a fourth Art Therapy Revolution ATC courtesy of The Art Therapy Alliance to include in the give back. Bonus!
View this video below that showcases ATCs contributed by each Art Therapy Alliance participant and learn more about our theme: Art Therapy- Helping Others, Communities, and??the World…. Enjoy!
Reflections: Reflecting back on this process, (my first ever ATC organizing/hosting experience!) I can’t think of a better community to engage in this kind of art collaboration! For me, this exchange truly captured the essence of what the Art Therapy Alliance is all about: bringing the art therapy community together through using technology and the use of social media tools to strengthen connections and empower our community. Not only did this project create a fun and creative opportunity for art therapists to make some art or learn more about ATCs, but the process of posting incoming cards on the Art Therapy Alliance’s Facebook page and participants sharing their art through personal blogs also further facilitated connection and excitement around this project. It was refreshing to witness community members sharing their experiences, exchanging comments about ATCs, as well as observing the positive impact of the inspiring visual and written messages the ATCs contained. I believe the power and outreach of social media really enhanced our collaboration and took e-networking among art therapists to a new level!
It was such a pleasure and honor to receive everyone’s mini works of art in my mailbox, see how each individual interpreted our theme, and what type of media, materials, and techniques were used in the making of his/her card. It is incredible what can be created and surface in a space that is only 2.5? x 3.5 inches!
Media & Materials: Techniques incorporating weaving, collage, drawing, painting, and photography were the foundation for many of the ATCs in this swap. Everything from mixed media, watercolor, pastel, fabric, to tissue paper, scrapbooking materials, graphite pencil, photographs and more were used in the making of ATCs contributed. Some ATCs were made from, but not limited to playing cards, cardboard, wood, or watercolor paper. On the back of the ATC people included everything from more art/images, inspiring words/quotes, stamping, their business card, or information about how to connect with them via their blog or e-mail. The only media challenge that I commonly encountered was with those cards that were sealed with a glossy medium such as mod-podge and not sent with a protective covering (such as wax paper) between the cards. Many of these cards arrived stuck together and were sometimes difficult to pry apart.
Themes: I also enjoyed seeing how everyone incorporated our theme about art therapy and the benefits of art-making to help others, our communities, and the world with the media and materials they chose. Images and messages of art’s power to bring hope, change, recovery, expression, and create meaning in the lives of others were seen throughout many of the ATCs.
Using ATCs in Art Therapy: This entire swap was inspired by this previously mentioned news story about how an art therapist was using ATCs within her art therapy sessions. I think similar considerations I have reflected on above around creating connection in our community could also be applied to using ATCs with the many populations art therapists work with. Creating ATCs and/or an ATC exchange among clients, groups, co-workers, family members, caregivers, etc. could be helpful in the mental health setting to foster compassion, understanding, empathy, raise awareness about various mental health issues, decrease isolation, promote expression and empowerment, as well as validate people’s experiences.
I sincerely thank the art therapists and art therapy students who participated in this exchange! It was much fun and I look forward to building on the connections created through this experience and within our community. It is my hope that the Materials and Media in Art Therapy community on LinkedIn can continue to engage in more group art collaborations! Stay connected here to be alerted about any future projects that get organized!