Art Therapy and Ecology 1

January 7, 2018


Photo: Mud and gold paint 1

Ecology Definitions:

1. The study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment.

2. The set of relationships of a particular organism with its environment.

3. The study of the relationships between human groups and their physical environment.

(Source: Collins Dictionary Online)

Workshop Information for MA Students in Art Therapy, Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork Institute of Technology

Groundswell is a social enterprise that works in the areas of art therapy, organic horticulture, environmental education, arts and health, and art and participation. 

“The environmental practices of Groundswell are aimed at developing biodiversity habitats combining…[edible plants], herbs, fruits, wildflowers, and indigenous trees. This method of networking domestic and ecological territories facilitates a consideration of both the cultivated and wild landscapes in which we live, engendering an appreciation for relationships between nature and culture as contexts for daily living. For example, gardens can generate an interest in both the productive and creative aspects of horticultural growing. They are cultural spaces that reflect interactions between human nature and ecology. Making art within a natural setting expresses themes related to growth, decay and processes of change, as well as cultural traditions associated with different seasons of the year. Groundswell links people, ecology, and place…The natural world’s aliveness and diversity illuminate the potential for artistic exploration that unites the materiality of the natural world with the materiality of the human condition…infusing art therapy with new frontiers of accumulative creation.”

(Quotation from Pamela Whitaker, “Groundswell: The Nature and Landscape of Art Therapy” in Materials and Media in Art Therapy: Critical Understandings of Diverse Artistic Vocabularies by Catherine Hyland Moon)

Making a Scene in Public: Art Therapy and Ecology Workshop 

This workshop for art therapy students at the Crawford College of Art and Design will explore the creation of land art within the nature of public spaces. Working with found and natural materials in outdoor studio areas, artworks will relate to both personal and collective themes. Therapeutic situations will be encountered en route through the examination of outdoor habitats. We will consider how art therapy can be choreographed through spontaneous relations with environment. Artworks will be both site specific and portable, assembling ingredients of location in an attempt to enact the energies of participants with the character of place.

Workshop Themes

Art Therapy Out of Bounds
Social Environments
Land Art
Choreography of Space
Therapeutic Situations
Conditions of Nature
The Artistry of Location


Photo: Mud and gold paint, 2

Editorial Quotations, Art Therapy and Environment, Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal.

Whitaker, Full Editorial, Art Therapy and Environment

A Natural Response to a Natural Disaster by Jess Linton (free access until March, 2018)

“An art therapy environment is both an art form and a place of production.”

“Art therapy environments are ecologies that produce particular conditions for creation.”

“Environment is not neutral.”

“The surroundings of art therapy are the starting point.”

“Art therapy can craft habitats.”

“Art therapy can find its place within social environments and form a sense of locality or residency within society on the move.”

“Art therapy’s environment is more than the boundaries of a frame. It can be an encounter, a happening, or a situation in the making.”

“The totality of an art therapy location can be a physical environment for art.”

“An art therapy environment is not a background, but the scene for experiences in the making.”


Photo: Mud and gold paint 3

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