Like many of the 350 people involved in the Art Therapy Without Borders International Postcard Art Exchange, I am busy making art to send out to fellow artists around the world. My focus has been on creating images about some of the history of art therapy in the US and around the world that I have personally experienced. During this process I started to think, “how does Art Therapy Without Borders fit into this collective history?” But more importantly, another question rose to the surface– why does Art Therapy Without Borders exist?
Several years ago Matt Dunne, former director of AmeriCorps Vista and currently Manager of Community Affairs at Google, taught me one important thing about non-profit, service-oriented organizations– they must know why they exist. Organizations that exist only to pay staff salaries or the rent on office spaces soon lose their souls and cease to be alive, even though financially stable. So while creating a series of postcards like the one you see above, I thought about why ATWB is here and its reason for “being.” Here is what I wrote on the back of this postcard:
Art’s power to change lives, repair and restore is present all around the planet. Art has the potential to transform lives and often in profound ways. When words are not enough, we turn to images and symbols to tell our stories. And in telling our stories through art, we can find a path to healing, recovery and transformation.
Art therapy is larger than any one group or any one country’s history; you are part of the story of art therapy in how you use art to help others, each and every day. That is why Art Therapy Without Borders exists, to help those stories become part of the larger narrative of what we call “art therapy.”
While some see ATWB as a footnote, we would rather think of this community as a series of footprints that are marking out the journeys of so many like-minded individuals around the world. Those footprints play out every day on ATWB, Art Therapy Alliance and International Art Therapy Organization’s social media platforms; we have learned never to underestimate the power of the people to come together via a common belief that art is transformative and that art therapy is powerful force that changes lives.
So some of you who are part of this collective journey will be receiving one of these postcards in the coming weeks. And let me say in advance, thanks for being part of the story— and let’s use art to wake up the world!
Cathy Malchiodi, President, ATWB