Art As Therapy

These images are all the work of Susanne, a woman who lives on the west coast of Sweden. I found her work on DeviantArt; she runs the Art-Psychology group on there…and openly admits to using art as a form of therapy, along with any writing she does to go alongside it. I didn’t have the time to read everything but certainly enough to know this is someone who is not only sensitive but actively engaged in a dialogue with herself. And no, not ALL artists are sensitive and conscious of the therapeutic process going on within. The writing is in Swedish, and I had to rely on good old Google Translate to do the hard stuff, and I only wish I was able to make more sense of the details. What I did manage to grasp - Susanne has plenty of shit going around her which has affected her mentally and emotionally and she consciously uses art and writing to not only express herself but to balance and calm her internal torment. It’s easy to assume that all art is a communication of sorts, whether it’s the artist’s mindset, emotion, or a philosophical concept. But, sometimes; art is used to bring the artist back to centre, and when that happens it is as much about achieving a personal psychological balance as it is about creating a finished piece of artwork which can then be shared outwards with others. The reason I think this may be the case with Susanna, in at least some of her work, is shown in her use of repetition and reversals, symmetry, and a lack of fussy detail.

In the images above we can see that an original image has been flipped to create a mirrored effect and both have the heads covered. Not all of the work in the folder was like this, but there was a definite sense of balance in each of them. I wonder whether the covering of the heads indicates the desire to ignore the presence of thought or the inability to grasp them. The cone-heads in Locked Logic could be showing thoughts being contained too rigidly, whereas the clouds in Girlfriends may be showing thoughts dispersing, but there’s an element of mental confusion, a certain lack of clarity. She’s used the same image to create Friends in Crime, and given them all horns; something about groups bringing the devil out in us perhaps? On her DeviantArt page underneath Friends in Crime she has written;

Nothing brings women together more effectively than the harassment of another woman. They usually come in pairs, as best friends, but here they seem to need reinforcement and multiply. Perhaps they’ve done something they’re ashamed of and need support. They’re giggling and conspiring back there, having so much fun. Their husbands and sons love it and are so proud of them.

From the category - Stress and anxiety inspired work

Again in some of these images, we’re seeing the use of flipping an original image to create symmetry. What I find interesting in Anonymous Callers is that she’s left the child’s head uncovered which suggests an awareness of the innocence of a young mind; children often see what adults turn a blind eye to. This image says the adults are locked into their ways of thinking; Susanne titled another cone-head image as Locked Logic, and it’s possible there were similar thoughts behind this piece of artwork. Folie A Deux seems to be saying that whilst two are engaged in the same self-destructive behaviour, one is being wounded more than the other because only one side is bleeding…it’s almost certainly an expression of the awareness of a difference under the surface (conscious or not). I find Gravepine slightly more disturbing than the others, and it’s certainly more complex. Is it voices inside the head? Those people are clearly not where they’re supposed to be, that’s for sure. Is everyone listening through the same pair of ears? Listening to just one person? The original text underneath speaks of issues of slander and gossip and if this piece is anything to go by then it’s suggesting a feeling of being invaded and torn.

The final two pics lack the symmetry of those above and focus on one object instead. Instead of a regular tail in Mermaid we’re looking at the head of a crocodile. Her added text says; 

A mermaid needs a sharp tail in dark waters

Mermaids are traditionally seen as whimsical, graceful, and lacking in aggression which is almost the complete opposite of a crocodile. Here we have a recognition of having to rely on primitive instincts to stay safe. Both are creatures of water, and the water is always a representative of emotion and that which is being felt.

The ostrich picture I like a lot. Her comment on the image is;

Sometimes you cannot bury your evil head in the sand. 

Not only does its mouth open in a scream, the whole image screams of an intention to face all that would normally have others burying their hands in the sand. It looks to me like the artist wants to confront the evil she sees and is indeed doing so with her words and artwork as well as having to face the people who provoke her in her daily life. I just wonder where she’d turn her attention if life were to offer her a period of peacefulness.

To see the rest of Susanne’s work you can visit her here.