The First Class
The first class at Pratt was one given by Prof. Robbins.
It was the core class in the whole art therapy programs.
The professor sat in a chair placed in the center of the wall facing the window, and the students surrounded him in a semicircle as they attended the class.
By the way, the chairs that the students sat on were equipped with a foldable table, like ones used for in-flight meals on airplanes.
We don’t see such type of table in Japan for we are accustomed to have a long table for two or three people.
From this reason I felt somewhat uneasy in the chair at first, but I gradually got to understand that the chair with table was an excellent product stressing the individuality and independence of the sitter. )
The first class was shocking for me from the beginning.
After a short lecture, prof. Robbins asked each students to take three sheets of drawing paper.
His direction were as follows;
"Firstly, draw a schizoid in you." (1st sheet)
"Next. Draw a depression in you." (2nd sheet)
"Finally, draw a paranoid (delusion) in you." (3rd sheet)
They were actually the first drawings I made in art therapy.
I don’t keep them any more, but I remember pictuers were drawn with abstract patterns such as swirls and dripping waves.
Prof. Robbins instructed the students to pin up their drawings on the classroom wall.
All the pictures being put up, Prof. Robbins looked around the classroom, then came straight up to my drawings and said, "Let's start with this one."
He then comments on how the compositions, colors and touches of the drawn pictures are interrelated with our psyche within us.
In this first class, I learned that our mental conditions can be expressed through the visual form of art and that their pathological differences were reflected in the style of touch, form and the color of them.
What I learned most from this work was that the pathology that we usually see in people with mental illness actually exists in everyone including me. In other words, the only difference between the healthy and the mentally ill is the matter of their relative proportions.
This idea has become a basic attitude for me to have an identity as an art therapist.