Expressive Arts in Times of Uncertainty

In the face of uncertain times  What did the expressive arts teach me?


We are living through uncertain times, confusion  and  fear  as human beings. No one escapes the feeling of 'not knowing'  of " not to have certainties " and to feel that one lives in moments of change without having answers of what this new scenario will be like. It is true that life is uncertain and the constant movement is part of it, however it seems that now it is up to us all as a human collective that feeling of being transiting to some other place. Multiple opinions emerge in this unknown terrain, some scientists trying to explain the virus and its possible development and cure, political and economic opinions trying to warn the world's post-pandemic landscape and even conspiracy opionions alerting us of possible interests globally. I don't pretend to justify or discredit these opinions, however I have the feeling that the mortal commons are swimming in this uncertain sea where we ask ourselves a series of things without necessarily having certain answers. In this panorama I return to my work as a Expressive Arts Therapist and it is from there that I find a place to which I can return and watch  the  resources that I have found in this field and have sustained me in uncertain times.


When you work from the expressive arts and place the arts and the imagination at the center of the experience you know the enormous potential that the arts have to create new and healthy scenarios. We believe we are all able to imagine and respond creatively to our world. We know that it is necessary to enter into dialogue with that imagination and that way  which  we may  approach the constant transformation of what surrounds us. Yet here comes the paradox. The  that we work from the arts and the imagination we know that in order to reach a reality where the imagination emerges and images appear that touch us and  They violate as human beings, it is necessary to go through the void, the chaos, which still has no form, which at times needs to be more deformed to find new possible ways of being and being in the world. We talk about being able to decentralize our literal reality, from day to day, dare to jump into a playing field where we abandon for a moment what we already know, experience, think and feel.


When we enter the imaginative terrain using the arts and the imagination we place ourselves not only as therapists but as artists able to tolerate the  uncertain moments, the blank canvas, the still-empty scenario, the creation that doesn't come to its end. We know that tolerating those moments are vital for surprises to arise by bringing in the new. Nothing new can emerge but we have faced chaos, emptiness and deformation first. It is not easy to sustain the moments of uncertainty in creation but they can become pleasurable and allow us to focus on the process of construction by playing with the various possibilities. The encounter with the multiplicity of images, options, sensations, thoughts are all valid and surprises are coming in the way. We must be completely present without trying to anticipate the arrival of " third " without trying to put hasty words to what we are living in the creative process. To be present means to be with all our body and senses, fully immersed in the experience, to honor what is going on with an unprejudiced look. How difficult it is to hold this moment, but if we are able to fully enter as good artists we will arrive at amazing images that will then reach our souls deeply to tell us new and powerful stories. These new narratives come because there was a creative process that held it up. When this is made present, we speak of individual and collective transformation.


If we talk about the possibility of play, creation and imagination we know that we have to be in an intermediate zone of creation.  For the work of art to emerge with all its strength it is important to go through an uncertain process of creation where we are giving form to that which has not yet arrived but which is to come. To hold the feeling that something is about to come but has not yet arrived is part of our work as therapists or facilitators. If we jump quickly to the product, we probably lose many possibilities that would have been possible in the field of experience. I remember when I was a pupil  Paolo knill who always  spoke of evidence  and several to go close to a product that makes sense and brings beauty for the other or the community.  It was wonderful to see how in each "test" that creation that at the beginning was incipient was taking longer life, was taking greater shape.  It was necessary not to hurry, to live the process of creation with enjoyment and presence. How much would be lost if we accelerated creative processes and would like to give you a final shape before your true evolution. How much would be lost if before the final image emerged we would put words that try to account for what is being created. No doubt that image would lose its strength because it would not have been born yet.


Today I feel there may be a tendency to generate hasty responses to the moment we are  living. While it is necessary to respond as a human collective, it would not fail to address the importance of locating us in times of transition in an area capable of welcoming chaos and deformation, a vacuum that will take shape and allow us to respond creatively.  to new paradigms.


One of the phrases I value most in the field of expressive arts therapy is that poiesis is always possible from Stephen K Levine. This means that the human being is able to transform his life even in traumatic situations. Art has always meant a way to respond to our experiences as human beings throughout history. In these days of confinement I have continued to attend to my private practice and I have been able to witness once again that poiesis is always  possible. Our breath is still present, our body and its desires to move, our own internal movement led to multiple images and possibilities even on cold computer screens that end up becoming very human encounters. The imagination is inherent to the human being, we are able to recreate our world, even from the limitation, from chaos and uncertainty. This possibility of continuing to create life belongs to us, it gives us meaning to continue existing, to be able to respond and not to remain in anesthesia or in the sense of being only impotent witnesses of what happens in our world. Those little creative acts both in ourselves and in relation to the others with whom we share this world give us a raison d' être. This creation, however minimal, if part of the  honesty and our own vulnerability is a contribution to the world in which we live.  Share  our poetic acts with others and with the world make us "human", make us feel that we are able to mold our experience in multiple ways. These acts become beautiful, by their own generous essence, by wanting to transcend our own limits and to reach the other one so that it will also respond in its own way. A collective that feels, that creates possibilities and connects with their community generate beauty and give us vitality and sense of being in this world.


What did the Arts teach me  Expressive in moments of uncertainty?


To rely on chaos and its processes of deformation, dare to swim in uncertain seas, in the liminal terrain of experience without rushing the arrival of the certainty, of the product, of the result. Enjoy the process. Know me a being able to respond even in times of pain, confusion and fear. Create bridges with the other through these creative and generous acts knowing that it will most likely come poiesis with all its vitality bringing new and powerful  images that enrich and nurture our world.