For Library Excavations #8: Therapy Art, Public Collectors explored the many books devoted to therapy and personality development in two different public library collections.
From the back cover:
The drawings, paintings, collages and sculptures in this booklet were originally published in psychology and art therapy books, dating from the 1950s to the year 2001. I find art produced by people in therapy, or during psychological evaluations to be deeply affecting, with its vulnerability emphasized through the use of common materials.
Therapy art is a category of creative work that is not always given a space for reflection outside of a clinical or academic setting. In the books used for this publication, illustrations are often accompanied by a therapist’s diagnosis. Sometimes there is an analysis of form in relation to a subject’s treatment, personality growth, or rehabilitation after a trauma. Reproductions are usually limited to a couple examples by each maker, and authorship is concealed. The works I have included here are presented with a belief that under fair use, their meaning is transformed when shown outside of a clinical context. I hope that my respect for the people who made these works comes through in this selection.
Therapists and clinics that serve the mental health needs of people are of critical importance, but profoundly undervalued in American culture. This is certainly true in Chicago, where I live. Here, the current Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half of all of the city’s mental health clinics to resolve a budget deficit in 2012. Currently he is demanding funds for a $95 million police academy. Everything is wrong with these priorities.
The sources for this booklet were found in the collections of the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center, and the Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University. — Marc Fischer
Library Excavations is a project and publication series by Public Collectors that highlights and activates physical materials found in public libraries. Library Excavations encourages intensive browsing of paper and print resources, particularly those that are under-utilized, or at risk of being withdrawn and discarded.