Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Meeting the country, and Art Therapy in Ireland

"Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place"
-Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone was certainly right, but Ireland is one of the most magical and awe inspiring places that I have ever seen and it gives Kentucky a run for its money!  However, I feel proud of my home state as I traverse Ireland because the two places share multiple geographical and cultural features in common.

As our group drove through the verdant, lush countryside outside of Cork on our way to the Ring of Kerry, I could not help but think of the similarities between Ireland and Kentucky. There were moments where I felt like I was on my way to the Red River Gorge, rather than to an otherworldly,  magical place thousands of miles away from our beautiful state. We have the same gentle, rolling hills that are adorned with long stone walls. There was a also a dewy sweetness in the air that reminded me of Kentucky in the Spring. While we don't have the same breathtaking vistas and diversity of landscape like Ireland does, I can still imagine that parts of Ireland are what Kentucky would look like on a grander and ancient, magical scale. The hospitality and sense of humor that the Irish have shown us also makes me feel right at home, as I can see them mirrored by my fellow Kentuckians, who are also famous for being witty and welcoming.

The connection between Kentucky and Ireland was further strengthened by our visit to the Crawford College of Art and Design, where we met with faculty and students from the Art Therapy program. We learned about the structure of the program and got to speak with the students about the similarities and difference between our practice, communities, and academic experiences. We also exchanged perspectives on the state of Art Therapy in our respective countries. The most powerful part of our exchange was creating a collaborative drawing with the theme of "Meeting". We gathered around a long table covered in paper and boxes of chalk pastels and created a vibrant, swirling piece accompanied by lively, steady conversation. It was incredibly gratifying and inspiring to see how art therapy and creativity can transcend culture and borders. It was also exciting to think about ways that this cultural exchange informs our practice, as well as identifying strengths of the American and Irish Art Therapy models.

Our experiences thus far have greatly inspired my own practice and have affirmed my deeply held belief that art is an essential tool for connection and healing, as well as a bridge between individuals and cultures.

 ~ Kate Dennis

Beautiful countryside in the Ring of Kerry

Group work as part of the Art Therapy visit at the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork Institute of Technology (Photo: Mallory Niemer) 

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