June 8, 2015 Marion MacDonald

The Healing Power of Art Therapy

In this video, a Mirasol graduate describes how art therapy not only enhanced her creativity, but helped her process emotions she could not express in words and, ultimately, work through the issues that lead to her eating disorder.

I came to Mirasol with a background in photography, but a lot of the mediums I've worked in here are things I've never explored before, so it's actually been very revealing. There are things coming out of me that I never thought I could do.

A lot has been brought to the surface for me creatively.I feel like for the first 30-some years of my life I never was creative, but it's always been in there, and I found it here.

There were so many times I had so much emotion coming up in me, and I didn't have words for it, so doing the art therapy was a way for me to express that emotion in a way that I couldn't do in any other modality.

The installation that I did was a month-long-process. It started with me going out into the desert, and I saw this chicken wire in a roll, and so I pulled it up out of the ground, and a small tree was stuck to it.

And the second I lifted it out of the ground, I knew exactly what I was making.

There were a lot of components that I felt needed to be inside the wound-up chicken wire, and those had to do with the symptoms of my eating disorder and substance abuse.

I needed things to symbolize each one of those elements. So I again went back out into the desert, looking for things like shards of glass to represent self-harm, an old rusty beer can for my substance abuse, rusted metal for darkness and depression — just all of the things I had done to myself.

When I started creating them and putting words on them and sticking them inside, I recognized that the roots coming down into the tree were me. They were my true, authentic self.

And the tree coming up in the middle was still attached to the wire, but it continued to grow above that. And so, just because all of those things happened to me, it doesn't mean the tree was choked off and couldn't live.

On the top, I cut a lot of cloth ribbon and on each one, I put things like "passion" and "joy" and "hope" and "happiness," and all of the things that I can have in my life, having worked through all of those things that have come out because of my eating disorder and substance abuse.