SHARERS answer one or more questions provided by a facilitating artist (who may also be the LISTENER). They are encouraged to speak from their own life experience:
"What is your experience living in America?”
“What was your or your ancestors’ experience immigrating to America or being indigenous in America?”
“What do you wish you could say to all of America?”
“How is America changing?”
"What do you see happening in your own community/family/neighborhood that tells the story of America?"
"What are the American values that are most important to you?"
LISTENERS are encouraged to:
- Ask follow up questions sparingly.
- Listen for the other person’s feelings, emotions, and perspective, not for accuracy.
- Feel in your body and heart what resonates with you as you listen.
- If visual images or phrases stick with you, use these to craft your piece of the mural.
LISTENERS write down their interpretation of what the SHARERS have told them as a poem, phrase, short story, or drawing. Members of our Artist Cohort will act as both LISTENERS and facilitators, creating written and visual work.
In Boston, all participants and artists are invited to tack up their work on a 200 square foot mural encompassing the space and creating a backdrop that is growing visually over the course of the installation over three weeks. On the front of the mural is the written and visual art. On the back are political campaign-esque signs advertising “American Therapy” in English and Spanish. Our artists work on a rotating schedule from 4pm-sunset on weekdays and 1pm-sunset on weekends from 9/25-10/9. For dates and locations, visit our Facebook page.
American Therapy Booth - How it Works
A collection of booths has places for participants to sit in pairs. Booths vary in design to allow for exploration of physical body language. They also vary in opacity or construction so that participants can choose how much eye contact they have. For example, a confessional-esque booth, a podium and chair below in front of it, and two chairs on loose springs where participants literally feel the tension between them as they hold themselves apart.
DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN THERAPY
American Therapy was beta tested as an Election Therapy Booth (ETB) at Park Street Station on November 8, 2016, and as an Inauguration Therapy Booth (ITB) at the Boston Public Library and in Washington, D.C. on inauguration weekend. As a civic engagement artist, I set up two chairs, a table, my typewriter, and a banner, and created/intuited live-time poetry as each person shared their experience. I then gave each poem away to the respective participant. ETB and ITB were both met with great enthusiasm from participants wanting to express and make sense of their struggles and commitments. This project will expand the offering to include more participants, multiple facilitators, more current political issues, and a physically navigatable and welcoming mural of writings and visual art from those reflecting on the experience. Julie Ann further developed American Therapy in Summer 2017 in Alabama, Tennessee, and Nebraska.