A book I read: Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

Image result for art as therapyI read this book over summer and it has really made an impact on the way I view the purpose of art in culture and society. The book is relevant to my practice because it made me think about the purpose of my work. This includes:

  • how the context of my work is interpreted
  • what the content on my work is
  • how I choose to display the work – where and how
  • the writing (if any) I choose to accompany a work

One big argument in the book was that artworks can make people feel understood. Whether that is a photograph capturing a troubled marriage, a sculptural piece that oddly describes what grief feels like. Or a painting made hundreds of years ago, given a new meaning with writing beside it that highlights the mother, son bond in a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. All of these examples detailed in the book show how works of art that touch on personal experiences can make the viewer feel less alone, or part of a wider network of people experiencing the same. This is a form of therapy! And I want to explore how I can use these themes of understanding for the viewer in my own work.

But what about therapy for the artist – me – as well? Can it be a form of therapy for both the artist and the viewer?


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