Contemporary Art in Support of Dropout People in the XII Municipality of Rome, Italy
Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: September 2015 - Project end date: May 2016
Project number: 2015-026
Beneficiary: Parterre Officine Sociali
Since its inception, art therapy (a psychological approach developed during the second half of the 20th century, supporting the therapeutic effectiveness of the visual arts) has been based on the idea that visual representation or construction of objects using plastic materials can contribute to the creation of deeply significant connections and, as such, to the resolution of their inner conflicts. The many researchers who established its fundamental theories, often relying on the tenets of psychoanalysis, helped define the expressive product, or work of art, as a vital sign, a crucial tangible proof of the individual’s humanity, a vestige of one’s memory. Pictorial expression therefore constitutes a method of symbolic communication critical in ensuring the harmonious relationship between Man and his surroundings.
Margaret Naumburg believes the process of art therapy is based on the recognition that man’s most fundamental thoughts and feelings, derived from the unconscious, reach expression in the form of images rather than words. Others, drawing inspiration from Donald Winnicott’s theories, think art therapy acts on deficiencies caused by a stunted development of creativity by establishing a supportive environment that symbolically shelters the individual from their own insufficiently positive environment, promoting a more authentic identity. This kind of intervention entails the use of multiple perceptive, sensory and expressive channels. Involvement, personal gratification and outside approval of the finished product increase self-esteem and contribute to restoring the patient’s fragile sense of identity.
In this manner, resorting to expressive therapies is motivated by their ability to help people resolve profound conflict and problems through mental representations of a sensory and affective nature, rather than discursive.
The project springs from the success achieved by the “Creative Art Workshop for People with Mental Health Problems”, a project undertaken last year with funding from your Foundation, and is a more developed and efficient version of the same. To this end, the Association has already entered into an agreement with two mental health centres in the in the XII Municipality of Rome: the first, Villa Letizia, for young patients just beginning their psychiatric therapy; the second, Villa Chiara, for patients with stable but chronic pathologies. Both structures apply the required therapy protocols, some of which involve long-term, pharmacological care. Both for day-care and for residential patients, the project aims to provide appropriate and necessary creative and artistic stimulus with a view to activating the patients’ imaginative and symbolic capacities.
The project received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation. It will consist of a painting workshop led by one established name in the national contemporary art community, selected with the counsel of a curator of contemporary art, also an art critic and journalist in the sector. The artist selected will serve as instructor of painting and general art techniques.
The learners’ group will be composed by a maximum of 15 people with mental health problems (in a stabilised phase and capable of undertaking a course) from the mental health centres Villa Letizia and Villa Chiara in Rome. A constant presence at the workshop will be maintained by a psychotherapist serving the role of group coordinator and mediator, and by one or two social workers providing accompaniment and support.
The idea is to bring together an art collective inspired by the artistic and biographical paths of the artists, integrated by the psychotherapist, in which the various human sensibilities can meet, mingle and give life to manufacts that can be considered both personal and, simultaneously, collective, since they are the result of a complex relational experience and constant intermixing of sensibilities.
The duration of the workshop will range between three and five consecutive hours per week, for a period of roughly eight months (September 2015-May 2016). It will be held at an external venue in the vicinity of the two health care centres, in order to shield it as much as possible from obstructive institutional dynamics.