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Resonant Renaissance: Art As Therapy

Updated on December 19, 2010

This is dedicated to my friend Janalyn who through compassion, patience and understanding gave me the encouragement and support to keep going.

As an artist for the majority of my life, I have become increasingly aware that the art I make originates from a need to express that which I cannot express through words. It is an expression born of action and ritual. Through this action and ritul the by-product is art.

Having recently been through a tumultuous year in which my life was turned upside down and shaken until everything fell out of all the pockets, I find myself relying even more on the function of making art to keep myself occupied. Futhermore having now been unemployed for the longest period of my entire adult life, and having no foreseeable prospects of a job, the necessity of art in my life has taken on a new importance and urgency. The act of making art is the primary way in which I am dealing with the inner turmoil and overwhelming flood of emotion I experience on a daily basis. With each proces I undertake, I find that the overwhelming feeling subsides a little. While it is not entirely abated, the pressure is lessened and the levee is spared.

Having a lot of time on my docket and very little to task, I have spent a lot of time reading books and online articles. One of the books I recently read was 'Man And His Symbols' edited by Carl G. Jung. I stmbled upon this book, which I had purchased a few years ago, while moving my belongings from one storage space to another. I had begun to read it when I bought it but the reading fell to the wayside shortly thereafter. Having rediscovered it, I immediately put to the side to take home with me. As I started reading it, I found that it was hard to put down, for the information and ideas presented were most pertinent to helping me comprehend my current situation. In this book, Jung and the other contributors discuss dream symbology as it relates to archetypes, alchemy, the unconcious and concious mind, and the process of individuation. As a result, I have found myself paying more attention to my dreams and meditating on them for divining the course of action for my life and healing of my soul. This is no easy task seeing as I am not fully aware of how to correctly interpret my dreams. Even so, I do not discount them as irrational or insignificant. To the contrary, they constitute the primary play of my contemporary spiritual growth. I know that even if I do not fully understand one dream, my subconcious will present another to augment or vary the symbols until I have made the necessary connections.

Another book I recently read was the biographical 'Jackson Pollock' by Ellen G. Landau. This has been the most influential, inspiring, and informative art history I've ever read. Prior to reading this I was only superficially knowledgeable of Pollock's work, knowing and appreciating only his most famous paintings. What became lucid to me during the reading was the depth of his struggle to produce artistic work of value, to leave a legacy that would endure. The value to which I refer is not of money, but one of communication on a level that transcends conventional methods. This value stems directly from his developed approach to process. While I think the term applied as "action painter" may be derogatory in a sense, it outlines one aspect of his techinque. It is not, however, the end all-be all of his process.

'Concious Cosmos' by Laird R. Haynes. mixed media on wood planks. copyright:  Laird R. Haynes,  2010.  All rights reserved.
'Concious Cosmos' by Laird R. Haynes. mixed media on wood planks. copyright: Laird R. Haynes, 2010. All rights reserved.

  The "action painter" terminology used by critics is superficial and belies their understanding of the deeper implications of his process.  The aspect these critics are missing is the ritual involved.  Jackson pollock's technique was a process that involved a ritual of creativity centered on the use of rhythm in movement.  This is the essence of the action of ritual to tap into the unconcious mind to achieve results that transcend the usual forms of conventional communication utilised by the consious mind.  Likewise the Jungian process of dream analysis is also an "action of ritual" to transcend the divide in communicatin between the concious mind and the self through interpretation of the dreams from the unconcious mind.  Dreams being the very antithesis of conventional communication, so too is Abstract Expressionism.

  Using a method of ritual of action to create art that is drawn from the deep well of the unconcious may be a direct way to augment the archetypes and symbols of our dreams.  This could provide a correlary tool in the analysis and interpretation of our dreams.  Potentially abstract art can have a beneficial use as a way to project our unconcious communications and trigger insights into comprehending these enigmatic musings from our higher selves.  Is it possible even that we may unconciously project the very same archetypes and symbols directly and spontaneously into the art created?

  What I am driving towards is that I believe there to be a strong correlation between these two processes and even a possibility for integrating the two in some form of process to reach new insights into our psyches.  I am interested to find if a resolution of techniques could effect the sort of epiphany required to individuate a wholeness of mind characteristic of true psychological healing.  The sort of healing necessary to be of significant and lasting duration.  This is the kind of healing I could so use at this time in my life to bring my inner, soulful needs into fulfillment in line with and symbiotic to my outer goals and aspirations.  This would be a harmonizing rebirth of spirit, mind, and body.  If you will, a resonant renaissance. 

-L. R. Haynes,  October 30, 2010.


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    • L. Ray Haynes profile imageAUTHOR

      L. Ray Haynes 

      7 years ago from the biosphere

      Thank you Shawint. for reading and commenting. I am kind of shy and reserved in front of people although less so now than in the past. I have only peripherally considered teaching anything...but with comments like yours I may have to consider this more centrally. I have been at a crossroads for a while where I have begun to focus on more creative endeavors in lieu of earning money. But I am tired of being broke in limbo...and I could really use a new career direction.

    • shawinterventions profile image


      7 years ago from California

      Brilliant. I find it surprising you're unemployed. If you are still unemployed, I'm wondering if you ever thought about teaching art and or psychology. You have a deep understanding and appreciation for both subjects, and your ability to integrate both arts is incredible.

    • L. Ray Haynes profile imageAUTHOR

      L. Ray Haynes 

      8 years ago from the biosphere

      You are sweet Susie! Thank you for commenting. It sounds like you may have a sculptor on your hands there. I have a friend who carves things out of tree trunks w/a chainsaw! He does some amazing things in wood. Thank you for the compliment and encouragement and good luck with your own endeavors! I wish you the best.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Love the art! I come from a fairly creative family myself. We all seem to have some sort of creativity. My youngest has gotten it from both sides, she not only draws comparably to any number of up and coming artists, BUT she also does extremely creative things with wood and other mediums.

      Best of Luck with your new endeavors!


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