The embodied image

March 8, 2017

 ‘Drawing is a record of our emotional and embodied selves’. (OCA Drawing 1, course notes p18)

 

Interesting connection with art therapy: Joy Schaverien (jungian analysis and author) refers to the embodied image (‘The Revealing Image’, p79ff, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1969/2005), in which the art therapy client moves from making ‘diagrammatic’ images or art objects to ‘embodied’ image making where the nature of the image, the marks, materials and physical process embody and powerfully communicate the mental and emotional state of the client.

It strikes me that often in abstract expressionism, the artist aims to embody themselves – whilst in powerful figurative work, the artist aims to embody the subject. And taking another person as the subject, this is not merely the artist’s own perceptions, but we know now through neuroscience that the human brain contains mirror neurons, enabling us to unconsciously mirror movements, postures and feelings of other people. Of course what I feel, as observer isn't exactly what you feel, however it still stands that a good artist, like a good therapist, may hope to mirror and to some degree embody the experience of the subject, and for the artist, to embody that in their work.

 

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