This week we’ll settle down together and meet a woman who is using art to help others heal. I’ve witnessed the power of her work myself through her art journal workshop at 21 Secrets.
Meet Art Therapist, Gretchen Miller…
Gretchen, please introduce yourself and your art a little bit.
I am a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist practicing in Cleveland, Ohio. I have a special interest in technology which includes creating, designing, and managing websites, forums, and blogging related to art therapy, creativity, social media, and community organizing. In 2008, I created The Art Therapy Alliance (www.arttherapyalliance.org), an on-line professional group that embraces social media and connection to promote art therapy, the work of art therapists, and build community. I also help co-found Art Therapy Without Borders, Inc. (www.atwb.org) and serve on ATWB’s Board of Directors to promote international art therapy initiatives in mental health, healthcare, and education worldwide. I also serve as Executive Editor for FUSION, an e-zine dedicated to a new energy, excitement, and blend of ideas, cultures, and people for a sustainable future in art therapy.
In my clinical practice, I specialize in the area of childhood trauma and loss, working with youth and women impacted by domestic violence. My work in trauma intervention motivated me to become a Certified Trauma and Loss Consultant through the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children. I present regionally and nationally on the application of art therapy, guest lecture, and teach as an Adjunct Professor at Ursuline College’s Master of Arts in Art Therapy & Counseling Program in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
Art making is really important to me and helps keep me grounded. I enjoy finding inspiration, creating energy, and discovering transformation through working with mixed media, painting, collage, altered art, making short films, and creating handmade books.
For me art is… reflection, passion, connection, transformation, meditation…
What are you currently working on?
During the month of April I am wrapping up a six month International Postcard Art Exchange I organized for Art Therapy Without Borders (http://www.atwb.org/Postcard-Exchange.html). Art therapists and art therapy students from over 20 countries have been exchanging postcard art with one another to learn more about their art therapy work and studies- It has been a great experience!
I enjoy creating art-based collaborations for the art therapy community to help facilitate connection and to stimulate art-making. With ATWB’s Postcard Art Exchange ending, I am currently playing with what our next art collaboration might be!
Can you tell us a little bit about your Art Journals?
Many of my art journals (currently) are around a theme or concept that I want to reflect on, learn more about, or use as a visual reminder for things important or of interest to me. I usually use a lot of collage and mixed media in children’s board books, which includes stripping the glossy pages off to work on the raw cardboard surface underneath. Some of my altered and handmade books can be seen at http://www.gretchen-miller.com/GretchenGallery.html with short films I have created.
Who has inspired you?
My high school art teacher Mr. Bontempo (aka Mr. B) really inspired me to take myself seriously as an artist. Art and making things was always something I “did” or dabbled in, but Mr. B. thoughtfully challenged me to own being an artist. He also saw great value in creative thinking and encouraged this in his student’s work, to see things outside of the box, and ideas (creativity) was just as (or more) important than being able to skillfully paint, draw, sculpt, etc.
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go & holding on”. – Havelock Ellis
Are there any tips to living a creative life that you’d like to share?
Great question! For me, it really helps to get involved with opportunities that will engage me in the creative process and making art with others, whether this includes collaborations, workshops, or special projects. I am easily intrigued and interested in what others are doing; creating, and using as far as techniques, media, etc. Being connected to others through social media and blogging also plays a big role in helping me access additional inspiration for collaborating, learning, and making more art!
Where can people find you and your work?
Gretchen, you have left us with so much inspiration today. I absolutely love the quote you shared. I hadn’t heard that one before, but it is perfect! Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Thanks again for doing this– a wonderful, thoughtful idea….
“Inspiring Artists” is an ongoing artist interview series at JoyfulArtsStudio.com. Join me Mondays for a weekly dose of creative inspiration.
The series will continue as long as there are artists wishing to participate. If you are an artist and would like to share your story, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you!
Love & Blessings,