I started a project earlier this spring based on a book called SoulCollage by Seena Frost. Due to some changes in my workplace, not necessarily bad changes, but new challenges I was feeling a bit stressed. I also was starting to really feel good health wise and starting to think about what I wanted to be doing as an artist. For example, while I love making dolls and in fact have three promised to make for other people, I haven't taught doll making or even really worked seriously on doing more than planning new dolls since around Thanksgiving of 2008. I've done lots of other crafts, crochet, making lots of stuffed felt bird ornaments, and returned to working on a number of quilt projects that I hadn't worked on regularly for a while. However, I like to have goals, I like to sort of know where I'm going and get things done and I was feeling a need to figure out just what my goals were, both on a deeper personal level and in terms of my crafty life.
So, I was feeling a bit in the need to be a bit self-reflective and while reading other blogs came across the lovely book Style Statement. I started doing some journaling using the prompts in the book, which was quite enjoyable to me. I have always alternated between being more a outward focused person to be being all inward focused. The periods of my life when I am most mentally healthy have been ones in which doing some introspection allows me to look at my life and what's going on around me and inside of me, without being overwhelmed with a grand sense of disaster. I am very good at dealing with stressful life stuff by running away via, distractions such as excessive t.v./movie watching, napping, generally trying to ignore my feeling of being overwhelmed. So, to try and counter this tendency and also looking for some spiritual renewal as well, so that leads me back to using art in a therapeutic way.
Writing has always helped me clarify things for me. I wanted to try do do some collage and see what that would be like as well, hence this ongoing project. The book Soul Collage is a bit new-agey, crystal gazing, mystic, tarot reading divination in tone, but I think that the therapeutic aspects of doing photo-collages to represent parts of my psyche can be of value. I also, admit, I have a bit of an inner hippie chick in me (not to be confused with my inner child who loves chocolate chip cookies, and believes it would be cool to have ESP). I do believe that imagery has power, why else would pieces of art speak to our emotions, our soul. So, I chose to shelve my critical thoughts about how goofy some aspects of the cards seem to me, and just make some. The author Seena Frost is a collage artist and psychotherapist who teaches people how to make the cards and holds group workshops as well as training others to be facilitators for others learning to make soul collage cards. I came across her website some time back and finally inter-library loaned the book just to read more about the process. I then copied the parts of book I wanted, and set about making my own cards using the book's basic framework.
The book sets up four categories of cards, or suits (sort of like how a tarot deck as four main suits) and one Source Card. The Source Card is basically, a card to symbolize the interconnected nature of all life. It is really card that is to try and represent the unrepresentable, i.e. "The Oneness Beyond Dimension" or what in religion would be seen as God, the Good, the Tao, etc. One of the aspects of the book I do really appreciate is its openness to people of all faith backgrounds, and basically the author tells you to define the source, with the image that speaks to you. She doesn't, except in the Companion Suit--give a specific spiritual direction and even then you could simply chose not to create those cards. The four suits are as follows:
"The Committee Suit- your own internal voices. Examples: the shy one, the teacher, the inner critic, the caretaker, the judge, the happy child... The Community Suit- those beings in your life who support you. Examples: your spouse/lover, your friends, siblings, parents, an author who has touched your life, current or past pets, ancestors…. The Companions Suit- a companion animal, one for each of the seven chakras. Examples: wolf, octopus, eagle, skunk, dragon, squirrel, dolphin, bear, honeybee, otter... The Council Suit- Dream figures and archetypes who guide you in your daily life, or who have guided you in the past, or those you wish to receive guidance from in the future. " Anne Marie Bennett, SoulCollage Playground, http://www.kaleidosoul.com/
Anne Marie Bennett's website is a great resource if you are interested in making SoulCollage cards and has some nice color photos of her own cards. Senna Frost's website also has lots of examples of her own cards and ones made by her students. http://www.soulcollage.com/ as well as lot of other information about her book. So far I've only made a handful of cards and made plans to make more as time goes by. For me this is a long term project, but I'm not daunted by the scale. It is also nice as I enjoy looking through the magazines I have to find images that could be combined to represent my ideas and the many parts of myself.
The Performer--Committee Suit. I made this one to represent the part of my personality that loves to be the center of attention, to be performing, and to entertain. I especially love that hula hooping little girl with the crazy hat on.