Dec 7: Creative Compassion webinar FOCUSZART - Towards a Sense of Belonging

Our Story

The story of Creative Compassion is linked to our mission to enhance resilience in individuals and groups

This includes to promote art empowerment by means that foster artistic self-reflection, self-healing and self-empowerment

One of the many possible ways to do this is to approach museum art. Professional Fine Arts pieces are created from an artist's understanding of aesthetic harmony and balance. Looking at Fine Arts pieces can be a step towards healing. In the therapy field this effect has brought about a special approach called Receptive Art Therapy

To cultivate my own understanding of visual aesthetics I visit art shows of galleries and museums on regular basis. A trip to five exhibitions in the culturally vibrant Ruhr Region of Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, is my 2023 highlighting

Among others I visit a special exhibition on Expressionists at Folkwang Museum Essen and the permanent exhibition at the Center for Persecuted Arts Solingen. Both exhibitions show master pieces that have been labelled as degenerative art during the 1930s and 1940s

Although not all exhibits are speaking to me (some of them do not resonate at all) I am deeply touched. The art shows introduce me to unknown and stunning pieces of Expressionism

'Keep up the positive and withdraw from despair having the last word' - this is what I get from the exhibitors as timeless message. Their art makes me feel something polyphony inside sounding more than just one voice. From all the voices I get, the voice of compassion for creative life is the strongest

Creative Compassion - Our Story. Art Journal page January 5th, 2023, Intention Setting

with artwork of ©Eric Isenburger (1902-1944), Portrait of a Dancer,1928, Citizen Foundation, Center for Persecuted Arts, Solingen/GER

Persecuted arts are witnessing the power of human creativity in the midst of destructive and life threatening circumstances. They hold a promise of resilience

This promise makes me research the work of other persecuted artists in Baden-Wuerttemberg/South Germany. I visit the Art Museum Reutlingen where the art work of Adolf Hölzel (1853-1934) is exhibited

In Adolf Hölzel I find a progressive and innovative artist and art teacher, a pioneer of modern arts and a pioneer of intermodal expression who strongly promoted women's artistic voices

In 1933 art work of Hölzel and his students (and later colleagues, The Hölzel Circle) was to be exhibited at the National Art Exhibition, but the exhibition was cancelled due to National Sozialist seizure of power

The art work of three members of the Hölzel Circle was officially declared as degenerative: The art of Ida Kerkovius, master student and long time assistant of Hölzel (banned in 1933), the art of Lily Hildebrandt, also a master student who chronologically documented Hölzel's lectures (banned in 1935), and the art of Max Ackermann (banned in 1936), a painter and designer who's artwork was already exhibited at the State Art Gallery Stuttart at that time   

Another member of the Hölzel Circle, Maria Lemmé who had been studying with Adolf Hölzel and published his ideas in her book "Thoughts and Teachings", was deported to Terezín in 1942 (official date of death March 28, 1943). Almost all of the art of Maria Lemmé had been destroyed except pictures she privatley had given away

Finding out about the members of the Hölzel Circle I visit the Stuttgart Hölzel House to find traces of their lives and their art, presented in a permanent exhibition. I feel intrigued by their work and cannot other but love their heritage

I decide to take Adolf Hölzel as artist of reference for Museum based Creative Compassion practice as his body of work of the 1920-30s is abstract, whereas the work of the Hölzel Circle is semi-abstract or figurative

Abstracts offer freedom of expression for the practitioner using Fine Arts pieces and receptive-active arts engagement as tools to build Relational Empathy from aesthetic feeling. Abstracts are interactive: It is the viewer, not the artist, who gives meaning to them

Finding peace and calm in pastels - Self Focusing with Hölzel Art

A JOURNEY OF REFUGE - From Exhibits to Lighthouse of Peace and Calm

Shortly before the museum is closing I enter the exhibition room. It shows small sized pastels of Adolf Hölzel with abstract colour composititons. The pastels are simple and masterly same time. I think: Here is someone working his art to a beauty of completion

Days later the pastel compositions are still alive inside. I ask myself: Why is this memory so vivid? My body is giving information - something about the pastels has been soothing and comforting. Something in the exhibition room has given me what I miss in life. What is this something about?

I understand that there has been more than pastels hanging at the wall. I sit down to listen to my body visualizing the exhibition room again and again

An inner rhythm comes up as a feeling. It then shifts to a movement. I feel I have found a rhythm matching my bodily stored memory. The rhythm is in conjunction with verbalization

I know there is a word to come but this word is not in my native language. I instinctively know the first letter of this word. It starts with capital "S". I try different words with "S". No English word does match

I realize the match has to come primarily from the body. The body is holding a knowledge I do not hold. And then, a very strange and complicated word shows up: Serenity

Serenity - This word has never been part of my English spoken vocabulary but I own its rhythm

There is a deep shift inside: Something good has been around this 1920-30s art not to be grasped. Now a symbolization has occured opening up to something further and it comes from embodied rhythm

Se-re-ni-ty. The rhythm of the word makes me think of something spiritual like the word 'Tri-ni-ty'. I am surpized looking up the dictionary. Serenity is the quality of being peaceful and calm. Is that all? So simple?

One the insights of Prof. Eugene T. Gendlin, founder of Focusing, is this: Life is thicker than theory. There must be more in the word serenity than the dictionary can tell, I say to myself

I decide to recapture Adolf Hölzel's pastel compositions through art practice. I feel I have to experiment with them for to feel them. Reproducing them might shift them into new forms. Will those new forms embark a More of....?

I know from experience: Any form coming from the body sense is forwarding meaning freshly. A More of is coming from the form matching the body sense

It feels I have found something meaningful to deal with as a long term project. A part inside has always felt at loss in the world seeking for belonging. Arts engagement with Hölzel's pastels looks like a place to explore this part from a place of empathic curiosity

Hölzel's pastel compositions, illuminating peace and calm in the midst of desastrous times, holding a More of ...., are like a lighthouse - an art refuge for building compassion, resilience and action for the good

Forwarding the arts through modalitiy shift - Dancing the painting

Watch the Adolf Hölzel performance at State Gallery Stuttgart

What is your story with the arts? What artists have an impact on your life?

I love to hear! Come and share your story!

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Sources of Creative Compassion practice: Imagination, arts and body

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