During 2011, Art Therapy Without Borders will be featuring members from the Advisory Council as an opportunity to learn more about their work and some of the art therapy initiatives they are involved in that speak to this community’s vision. September’s spotlight includes Jennifer Navarro:
Jennifer Navarro, MA, ATR-BC, LMHC has been adjunct faculty in the Lesley University Expressive Therapies Program for 8 years. She is an artist, art therapist and blogger. Her blog, Altered Art Therapist, focuses on maintaining a personal commitment to art making. Jennifer specializes in using altered books in supervision and recently presented nationally in the US on the topic. She currently works with adults in an inpatient psychiatric setting and for the past 15 years has worked with children, adults and elders in a variety of settings. She runs a vocational arts program that gives clients the skills to create and sell marketable art items. She is passionate about helping people understand and develop their creative abilities. Jennifer maintains a private practice in the Boston, Massachusetts area specializing in supervision.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: I am an art therapist living and working in Boston, MA. I am adjunct faculty at my alma mater Lesley University. My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts and my graduate degree is a Master of Arts specializing in Art Therapy. I am an active member, along with my partner, of the Unitarian Universalist church, which has a strong emphasis on social justice issues. I work with an adult population at a state hospital in the Rehabilitation Department of the psychiatric units. Within art therapy, my interests are vocational arts, altered books, training the next generation of art therapists and best practices with underserved populations.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? In preparing for teaching a course on Art Therapy for Adults with Mental Illness, I am reminded again and again of how we have misunderstood and mistreated people with mental illness over the years. I hope that we never forget the days of locking away, lobotomizing, chemically restraining and confining to deplorable conditions those with mental illness. Unfortunately, some of these practices continue in all parts of the world and I think it is our obligation as clinicians and humans to speak out against these and other more subtle violations of human rights and dignities. Working in a state hospital brings me face to face with the history of mistreatment of the mentally ill, but it also brings me an opportunity to bring hope and make a positive difference. While studying the history of the treatment of mental illness, I have learned that there have been many movements along the way to improve practices as far back as the 1800s. What is old is new again as we constantly strive as clinicians and art therapists to play a role in continuously maintaining our awareness of human rights and dignity for those with mental illness around the world.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? I am thrilled to be a part of 6 Degrees of Creativity! I am honored to be included in this group of art therapists as we prepare to unleash our series of art therapy workshops. My contribution will be on the art and craft of beeswax collage and some tips on living a more artful and art filled life. Last December, I started my blog Altered Art Therapist. My initial hope was that writing a blog would help me keep a personal commitment to myself to make art on a regular basis, as that is something I believe is important for all art therapists. The blog has blossomed and I have had a great response to it. I find that maintaining my commitment to my blog keeps my creative juices flowing and helps me honor my “creativity commitment.” I am also bound and determined to get a book published! It has been cooking on a back burner for two years now and it is my goal to make significant progress on it in 2012. Stay tuned!
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? My blog, Altered Art Therapist, can be found at http://jennavarro.wordpress.com and you can reach me via email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!