Student Highlight: Caroline Sell on Art Therapy

Caroline Sell

Jennifer Deininger interviewing Caroline Sell – 2nd year transfer student at Naropa University in the BA Art Therapy Program.

How is art a contemplative practice for you?

I always start at the beginning. Art has always been this process of filling out the space, rather than creating space and filling it in. It’s like a flame, often starting small and then growing. It’s about the process of discovering the space, rather than the end product of having it filled. It’s contemplative because it’s not about creating anything for me, but rather sitting with the space and seeing what arises.

What has your experience been of art as therapy/ art for healing?

I learned this word in one of my classes with Leah Friedman: sublimation. It’s the process of transforming energy beyond catharsis. My artwork isn’t just cathartic, it’s sublimation for my emotions. When I start a piece of art in some emotional state (i.e. grief, anger, confusion, bitterness) the artwork becomes a process of softening, transforming, and ultimately manifesting authenticity. My art making softens me back into a state of equilibrium and serenity.

Why Naropa?

I don’t have exact words why. When I know something is what I’m supposed to be doing in this world, I do it. Naropa provides a stable and familiar atmosphere with a pedagogy that I work well with. This stable foundation allows me to push myself in my Art Therapy studies.

What piece are you showing me today?

My pink crocheted bun hat. I love making hats, scarves, mittens, and leg warmers. I enjoy making useful products through ceramics, fiber arts, and jewelry. Wearing my art, and having others wear my art, brings me joy.

As someone who loves color, I’ve noticed you have a theme of pink in a lot of your work. Can you speak to that?

Pink is a safe color for me. It calms me down. Having pink hair, looking at pink, and wearing pink brings me a sense of safety. It’s even better making my own pink accessories. Pink is grounding.

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