Home' Aurora : Aurora August 2011 Contents 8
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
WHEN YOU SEE the delicacy and detail
of artist Karen Adler's art, and absorb
the grace of her written texts, you might
be forgiven for assuming that she focuses
entirely on her own works. You could not
be more wrong.
While Karen is an artist, and a very gifted
one, she has shifted her focus significantly
to a new career in art therapy. "It satisfies
me intellectually, spiritually, emotionally,
and in all sorts of ways that are essential
to my character."
Karen's own life has included, in her
own words, "twists and turns, dead-ends
and road blocks, false starts and
turning back and starting all over
again." Bringing various forays into
psychology, librarianship, research, writing,
photography and curatorial work together
under the banner of Art Therapy and using
the tool of the 'journey journal', has led to
The concept of life as a journey is not new
but it is one which has worked remarkably
well for Karen in coming to terms with
what her own life has presented. "It's
only in recent years that I've come to
the realisation, not only of the validity,
but the usefulness of the Life as a
The art therapy workshops Karen is now
running use the journey metaphor as
a 'way in' to the individual's experience,
but she insists that artistic talent is
not a prerequisite. She continually
marvels at the impact art therapy can
have, particularly when clients use art
therapy processes during their periods
of transition: "Again and again, there are
those moments of insight, of discovering
something about yourself that you were
completely unaware of that gives you a
greater sense of trust in yourself, in having
your own answers."
A turning point in Karen's life was time
spent walking the Camino de Santiago
in Spain in 2005. "Walking upon the
earth every day -- well, most days -- for
seven weeks gives the mind a chance to
quieten, to get in sync with the body, to
work with the natural rhythms of our world."
Six years on, Karen describes the Camino
as "the most powerful experience of my
life. It was, quite simply, transformative,
and it's given me the template that I work
with in my life."
Art therapy is Karen's way of sharing that
template, because its truth has been
validated for her despite bitter experience.
"The making of art has enabled me to get
through some of the hardest times in my
life -- the deaths of my parents, lost love,
periods of anxiety and depression."
Karen is at pains to stress that art
therapy is not about producing a work
of art; rather, it is a process which puts
participants in touch with their own
wisdom; "Art therapy is a way of making
the unconscious, conscious.
"In the worst moments of our lives, there's
a pattern, there's a form, there's a shape.
In the dark night of the soul, knowing that
the psyche has an inbuilt mechanism for
dealing with the worst life can throw at us -
that's where the gift is."
Karen's version of art therapy owes
something to many influences, from
mythologist Joseph Campbell to the
Sisters of St Joseph who taught her at
Lochinvar; from scripture and literature
to fairy tales and poetry. Through study,
reflection and openness to 'the more', she
has found a path which she is now sharing
as widely as possible, simply because,
"I love what this can do, for myself and
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Looking at life
By TRACEY EDSTEIN
If you are intrigued, Karen is presenting
workshops based on art therapy and
creativity processes at Maitland Regional
Art Gallery on Thursday 4 August and
Saturday 26 November. She is also
available for individual art therapy
sessions. For more information, phone
Karen on 0420 593 121.
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