Information about The Legacy of Edith Kramer is up on the Routledge website. Very exciting for Susan Ainlay Anand and myself and all the wonderful contributors. (Feeling delighted and grateful)
|"Always Going Home" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.|
Mostly I do workshops on paper puppets, narratives, and collage, but I'm flexible.
When I worked in NYC, with seriously mentally ill clients, I found creating puppets with them was an amazing, engaging, and enlightening experience. Folks created their own world, Puppetland, where anything could happen. They created new histories for themselves, based on the delightful interactions that their puppets had. It was truly life changing for many people, but I thought at the time that perhaps it was a little flukey, perhaps it was just the perfect combination of factors that couldn't be replicated elsewhere. I decided to study the process, and wrote my doctoral dissertation on the experience. It later became a book published by Jessica Kingsley.
Even though I figured out some of what went into making it such a deceptively powerful experience, I still harbored the thought that maybe it was a fluke because I had the luxury of working with group members for years. Folks could really take their time and develop healing, transformative narratives of strength around their puppets, the puppets homes, and even backdrop collages that embodied the narratives in a truly magical way, like an illustrated children's book that you accidentally fell into.
I started working in a workshop format, creating puppets with grandparents and grandchildren in the Adirondacks of New York. Still thinking that the success of these experiences must be due to the specific make-up of the groups in the Adirondacks, I thought why not take the workshop to other cultural groups and environments. While visiting Susan Anand, art therapist in Mississippi, I suggested that we collaborate on an intergenerational workshop with stressed communities in the Delta region of Mississippi. Susan made it all possible and we did many workshops together in a variety of settings, with a variety of populations. We worked together, and we worked separately. We worked with Vietnamese families devastated by the BP oil spill, with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, a stressed Native American community (First Nations), with cancer patients, and art therapy students. The results are always new, unexpected, surprising, and always transformative and animating!
I am beginning to think it's not a fluke. If you can, come to one of our workshops and try out the methodology for your self.