Lisa Mitchell

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The power of holding art in your hands.

Lisa Mitchell | Oct 27, 2016 | 9 comments

Hope Filled Postcard Art Exchanged


I got HOPE in the mail and I held it in my hands!

I signed up for Gretchen Miller’s Creative Deed Art Challenge thinking it was a fun idea to be a part of a postcard exchange.  The theme was HOPE which made it feel comfy and cozy.  I made three postcards, infused them with HOPE, and addressed them to Australia, Maryland, and Iowa.  It felt good.  I liked thinking about my hope-filled art cruising around the country and finally landing in someone’s appreciative hand.  I enjoyed following the Facebook images of the others’ who were creating postcards and gifting their hope to the world.  I thought to myself, “This exchange thing is wonderful.  I want to do more.”

Then I started receiving postcard gifts of my own in the mail.  Through the mail slot–real paper, real art, from real people popped through and landed on the floor with such grace and beauty.  To my delicious surprise, the very same people to whom I’d gifted a hope postcard had made and sent me one of their postcards.  We were now linked.  Joined in our endeavor to spread hopefilled art and in our appreciation of one another’s wish to connect in this way.  When I first received each one I traced the texture and line with my fingers and truly honored the handcraftedness of the postcard.  I have carried the three cards with me in my planner and feel buoyed by their presence in my daily schedule.

Hope from Iowa--Jeni Green

Hope from Iowa–Jeni Green

Hope from Australia--Sally Swain

Hope from Australia–Sally Swain

Hope from Maryland--Lindsey Aumick

Hope from Maryland–Lindsey Aumick

It might sound sappy or perhaps a bit overly dramatic, but I hadn’t received a REAL piece of mail since a dear friend created a congratulations card after my book was published.  That was 8 months ago.  I keep that one in my planner too!

Art has power.

The power of art is never lost on me.  When we hold art in our hands.  Or when we make art with our hands.  Or when we make art for others and gift it to them—hands giving and hands receiving.  The power becomes tangible.  For example, the very abstract concept of hope became a concrete experience when 3 strangers used art to translate their hope and send it to me.

But it’s easy to forget.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen often enough.  We tend to rely on our thoughts or concepts to decode our experiences.  And because we rarely take the concepts further, into tangible form, we suffer from a form of alienation that is very subtle and pervasive.  We lose connection with our ability to create, to manifest, to connect with our hands.  And ultimately, I think we lose connection with ourselves and others.

Imagine a baby who is exploring its mother’s face with its hands.  Or a baby who reaches for a stranger’s shiny necklace to touch it, hold it, even taste it.  The baby is relying on the tangible to explore and understand these new concepts—mother, stranger, necklace.  To deny the baby that exploration is to alienate it from the true understanding of those concepts.

This is very important in therapy.

Our clients have the same needs.  Research shows us very clearly, that talking about concepts can be momentarily helpful, but when we want to help our clients make long term change, we need to root the concepts in real experiences.  The key to making an experience real is to ground it in the physical.  The senses of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight are the fastest route to translating a concept into something tangible.  But in a fast paced world, that thrives on digital communication, this REALNESS gets forgotten.  When we slow things down and invite our clients to use their hands for understanding through art or other creative expression, we are creating the kind of experiences that support long term change.

It’s also important for therapists!

In this whole postcard experience, I’ve become aware of how much I miss the in-person therapist groups I used to facilitate. The ability to reach so many more therapists online has been really attractive in these past 3 years.  I’ve connected with thousands of beautiful therapists and healers virtually.  And, while this is so very valuable for all of us, there is still an absence of those in-person hugs.    I miss sharing our art–up close and personal-as validation of our shared experiences as therapists.  For that reason, I’m pleased to announce that I will be offering several in-person workshops in 2017.  The first of which is ArtSpace: An Art Based Process Group for Therapists.

If you are in or near Sacramento, I would so love to have you join me in this hands-on experiential workshop.

If you are not located in Sacramento–perhaps we could send each other a postcard and connect in that real way!?


9 responses to “The power of holding art in your hands.”

  1. Michelle Nuttall says:

    Hello Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your experience in participating in this art challenge. I am sooooo motivated to propose such an activity in my FB circle!
    I am in the last year of my Master’s programme in art therapy (part-time programme) while I work full-time as a social worker. I feel as though I have no time to create for fun. (I doubt this feeling will ever disappear, life being what it is!) This activity is a simple yet very exciting way to get into action.
    Would you care to participate once again?! 🙂
    Michelle in Montreal, Canada

    • Lisa Mitchell says:

      Hi Michelle,
      You are right….creating for fun is the sad recipient of neglect in a busy life. Little things like postcards can be just the thing. I would LOVE to participate again! What a fun thing for you to organize.

      • Michelle Nuttall says:

        Hello Lisa,
        How unfortunate. I have just come back to see this post again and noticed that you had responded to me the same day I wrote you. I thought I’d get an automatic prompt to my email address if you did. However, silly me, I notice a mistake in my email address below. Shoot!
        So… my project is rolling. Two days ago I sent out the 47 participants their 3 matches. I do have two others who have expressed interest since doing this. If you are still willing to play with us, the deadline to put the cards in the mail is January 29th and the theme is “You are Loved”. Let me know if you want to join.
        Happy New Year!

  2. Vikki Ziskin says:

    Please keep me in mind for any weekend intensives, can’t do 2x per month, but could do monthly….

  3. Hi Lisa,
    Can you share how the “mailing list” was created? Was the idea that you sent to a specific someone who sent to you, or was it a random choice from a list … or a “chain” mail sort of thing (you send to the first three people and then put your name at the bottom of the list and cross their names off – or something). I would also like to create or participate in such a project. I think hope is so important for all of us, right now!

    • Lisa Mitchell says:

      Hi Sasha,
      This art exchange was organized by Gretchen Miller. The link to her site is in my post. She asked her social media network for volunteers and then compiled the list. From there, we were matched and sent addresses and deadlines. It was easy and fun! No chain mail stuff that feels complicated!
      I hope you do it.

  4. Sally Swain says:

    Lovely Lisa!
    I was lucky enough to be part of the same Hope card exchange grouping.
    So I too received sent and received cards from Jeni in Iowa, Lindsey in Maryland. Also Lisa in Sacramento!
    I’m the one over in Australia.
    Lisa – you describe the joys and excitements of participating so well. Actual snail mail that isn’t an electricity bill. It’s in fact the complete opposite of an electricity bill. A hand made art card. Yum.
    warm wishes
    and love.

  5. Milissa says:

    Hi would love to exchange a postcard with you in any theme to express our work and emotions. Im a mixed media artist and interior designer in Rhode Island. I turned to art as therapy when my life felt like it was falling apart. More every day it Bevan my passion. Im looking to open up a jamming through art workshop here and im working on my business plan. Going to get your book asap!!!! Namaste Milissa

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