Virtual exhibition opens October 8
Artist’s talk October 10 at 7 pm,
Reregistration is required for the Artist’s Talk, sign up via Event Bright.
I’m thrilled to have my collaboration with the graduation student from the Expressive Arts Therapy Studio course on view virtually at Lesley University. In February of 2020, I was invited by Dr. Ara Parker to present Can you make hair for me? to her class. The result was a series of collaborative “heads” and photographs.
Ara was kind enough to write the information panel text for the show. Thank you, Ara!
Can you make hair for me at Lesley University
I first read about photographer/ MFA student Eileen Powers and her art project Can you make hair for me? through Lesley University’s social media last fall. Some prints from Powers’ evolving portrait series had been exhibited at Mass General Hospital’s Cancer Center and her project was garnering some local television news media attention.
The images were captivating. Her Facebook page explained:
After finding out I had cancer and learning that I would need chemotherapy, I became stuck creatively … I didn’t recognize myself anymore. It took weeks before I could view my bald head in the mirror. But once I did, I began trying to think of positive ways I could help other people through my art. I decided to create Can you make hair for me? and invite artists, friends and supporters to find ways to make hair for me that I could then photograph and share. The goal is to show that loss is real, but our ingenuity in dealing with loss is what makes us stronger, more compassionate humans.
I would like to have 100 people participate in this project via real materials or digital art… I would like this to become a joyful, collaborative project that I can share with others who have cancer and give them a moment of happiness in what can be a very long, soul-testing treatment.
I was immediately enchanted. Eileen Powers was transitioning from portrait photographer to subject/ portraitist through this project; creating a community-based arts and health project as she went.
Photography has a unique ability and potential to transform perception for both the artist and the viewer. It plays with inner vision and outer representations. Its capacity to portray diverse realities takes form through the medium’s magical and transformative alchemical processes. Portrait photography is a tremendous vehicle for character study, observation, self-examination, relationship, and reflection. These are all aspects of our work as expressive arts therapists. I knew with my upcoming Spring term Expressive Arts Therapy graduate Studio course, that my students would find Eileen Power’s art and story inspiring.
Eileen came to our class on February 16, 2020 to present her work and this project. She extended the invitation to my students to participate in the project. What you see in this exhibit is the response of several students and the instructor to that invitation on display, alongside Powers’ series to date. We had intended to exhibit this work on campus, in our pre-Covid-19 planning when, at the time, over 60 pieces in total had been created for Can you make hair for me? Isn’t it amazing what an invitation to make art can yield in terms of creativity, community engagement, and the generation of healing life forces? By the time we rescheduled and prepared for the exhibition to go virtual for October 2020, her goal of 100 hair/ headpieces had just about been met.
There is such tremendous potential for healing through the arts. There is strong intersectionality, both in theory and applied practice, between expressive arts therapy and artistic practice. This collaboration between these students in our Fine Arts and Expressive Therapies schools at Lesley University is evidence of that.
Dr. Ara Parker, Core Faculty, Expressive Arts Therapy, GSASS, Lesley University