Monday, August 9, 2010

Interview with Karen Parisian

How did you learn about art therapy?

I was studying art education and felt like something was missing. I didn’t even know what art therapy was and another art ed student happened to introduce me to a book by Florence Cane titled the Artist in Each of Us. That was all I needed.

Where did you get your education?
BA in Art Education at WMU, Kalamazoo MI
MAAT at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Who are your influences artistically?
Paul Klee (he’s so whimsical and unafraid ) Jackson Pollock (for his spontaneity of line and movement) , Picasso (I love both his blue period and cubism and his ability to be evocative with both) Kathe Kollowitz (the beauty and depth of emotion in her work)

Do you have a favorite piece within this portfolio?
The Long Goodbye has to do with the bonds we make in therapy and letting go once we have reached a departure point. This is one of my favorites because it’s about the art therapy work and the people that we travel to great depths with.

How would you describe your style? I like to think of it as Spiritual Modernism. The work I create reflects spiritual needs which I feel are often hidden or lost in our fast paced and consumer oriented culture. Many of the symbols and metaphors I use represent the universal and our need for community and connection. Stylistically I work within the influences of the modern masters.

Would you say that becoming an art therapist has impacted your style? Yes, definitely so. The experiences and depth of the art therapy work elicits a need to respond and connect with others artistically and evokes deep thought and emotion which gets translated in my own process of creating.

Is there any difference between “art therapy” work and “art gallery” work? Do you do things any differently based on the audience? This reminds me of the question , is there a difference between art ed and art therapy? I will give the same answer, sometimes Yes and sometimes No.
My most interesting work and the work that tends to sell is the work that has the most emotion ,spirit and meaning. If you are authentic with your work the work is usually received well by others and ultimately they want to have some of it.

I see that you have gallery representation. What has that been like for you? Do you have any advice for other art therapists interested in showing work in the fine art gallery scene? Just be real. Do what inspires you and what makes sense to you. The rest will fall into place. If your work is truly personal, then maybe it’s not necessary to put it in the public eye. If you are feeling that you would like to share it, then by all means I think people will relate and connect to the work.

You are at a cocktail party and someone asks you, “What is art therapy?” How do you answer that question? There is a quote I recently came across that says “Life beats down and crushes the Soul, and Art reminds us that we have one”. I like to explain art therapy in that sense. Art serves a purpose that helps us give visual form and meaning to the difficulties we face. The art therapist helps the person find that form and voice and gives the individual support, comfort and encouragement in the process.

There is a series of four paintings that are of the same dimensions and have a similar composition. Are they part of a set? Is there something about this size that appealed to you creatively? The vertical format allowed for a moon to stand alone at the top and for the figures to be intertwined and connected on the bottom half. Compositionally it somewhat represents sky/heaven and earth or the notion that we are all connected under one moon, a universal, spiritual sort of message.

In reference to your artist statement, can you talk about an "extreme state of being" that you have explored through your artwork.
I think when we have something important to communicate or say, it is not always apparent in words but it hits us deep in extreme ways that we don’t always have access to.
I think the art allows us to explore that, sometimes without even realizing we are doing so. On the other hand, when something apparent strike us head on, a loss, a trauma, we are often driven to find ways to work through it and art can help with that.   

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