The Art of Arrangement

June 16, 2014


Composing an arrangement of personal keepsakes and found objects can be an aesthetic practice within art therapy. It creates a situation that brings together objectified forms of what is meaningful and pertinent into a therapeutic context. Singular objects generate a collective enunciation of associations. Found objects, as ready-mades, evoke relationships to experiences and events. The act of placement is also the art of juxtaposition, finding a place for everything, but also changing the order of things as needed. Every component can be re-positioned, nothing is fixed or secure, but rather exists as a temporary stage from which to find one’s bearings.


Personal mementos may be relics of the past and/or contemporary objects that provide comfort during times of transition. They are familiar and tactile forms that can be collected and used as focal points for discussing current and changing circumstances. Each relationship between items is an emerging possibility. The idea that nothing is stable, or still, breathes new life into the potential of moving things around in order to gain a different perspective.

Art therapy can illuminate the significance of personal collections that restore memories and also represent personal interests and captivations. The significance of arranging what is already at hand reflects an individual’s visual culture. It shares what has been lived and what is currently being manifested in the course of daily life. Bringing into art therapy these lived expressions, changes the nature of the therapeutic encounter. The art therapist does not start the conversation or structure the session, instead they are a witness to an act that is an encounter with lived possessions. The art is in the act of arrangement, the display of what has been selected, and the assembly of associations. Art therapy is not always about making, but re-making what is close by and relevant.