Monday, November 24, 2008

Rag Doll and Professional Identity

Just back from the AATA Conference. That’s the American Art Therapy Association’s annual gathering to learn and share. This year it was in Cleveland. It’s expensive financially, in time, and trouble. It’s inconvenient, always coming just before Thanksgiving. It’s an enormous hassle. This year it was a bit easier because we could drive. And I learned so much. Okay, I know, a rag doll doesn’t seem like much. But it’s not just that I learned how to make a rag doll. This doll is practically a fetish, a voodoo creation. It is inspirited, I might say. Inspiration. Breathe in.
The doll was made with INTENTION. [The intention has to do with my professional identity.] Okay, so how does a rag doll evoke or invoke identity? Oh I don’t know HOW, but it does. I find myself thinking about my professional identity as I wonder about the color choices. They’re not colors I normally like. They are plain. They clash. I wonder about the sparkly bits. I had “sparkle envy” at the table where I worked and the person across from me generously gave me a piece of her sparkly fabric. I quickly placed a seashell on her waistband as I raced to finish the piece and remembered wampum as I did. Shell was used for money, called wampum, by some Native American tribes in New England. I will add the face later. Or maybe I won’t.
Here is a craft (you should have seen the materials flying!) that can make a huge mess. I was anxious as I tried to figure out how to assemble the doll. I have never been a fan of dolls and couldn’t understand why I signed up for this workshop – and paid extra – to learn how to make it. I felt frustration. I didn’t get it about how to connect the figure to my professional identity or anything else.
Yet, now that it is done it carries a quiet energy. It embodies competence, knowledge that I have my sparkly bits, regardless of how much it may show to others, and my value is firmly fixed. I’m wild about my doll.

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