AN AUTHOR’S NOTE
I am often asked how the three fields in which I have become expert fit together. Art History, Psychoanalysis and Art Therapy.
When I was studying and gaining experience in each I did not imagine that much later I would find deep and lasting links among the three of them.
Studying art history at Wellesley College where the faculty was renowned and each class had a studio component, I discovered the depth of my love for fine art. That study led briefly to a wish to become an artist and several years of study at the Art Students League in New York and the Accademia di Belli Arti in Rome.
Needing to make a living to support what I jokingly referred to as my vice –- sculpture – I embarked on a career as an art teacher and art therapist. Both made me realize the power of art to heal and enlighten as well as to delight.
Finally, wishing to understand the people (children and adults) with whom I was working in a deeper way I began to explore psychoanalytic theory and practice. Why people made their art the way they did was the question that drove me to pursue answers that were both complex and profound enough to satisfy my curiosity.
Some years later I found myself at a university teaching art and psychology to artists, art therapists and the general public. That is when I realized that all my previous explorations and study had come together.
Psychoanalytic thinking could certainly be applied to artists from past centuries as well as to people in clinical settings in the present. Both would be enriched by the multilayered complex questioning that is characteristic of the field.
Art therapy as a field had been built on a psychoanalytic foundation which assumed that there must be complex meanings for artwork and art-making by patients. It was an easy transition for me to assume that the same would be true for work done by fine artists. And so the circle was complete. I could study the lives and work of artists aiming to discern what motivations and meanings might be hidden from the general public but could be discovered by someone with triple training.