Visual Narratives

pre k

Elementary 🎨🎨🎨🎨

Middle school 🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨

High school 🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨

Trauma Victims/ Combat Veterans 🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨???

The visual narrative / graphic novella / comic strip whatever name seems appropriate, was a project that I both enjoyed working on just for fun but also could see how it would be applied in a therapeutic setting, which was very exciting for me. I recently attended the Art Therapy department’s conference on trauma. The speaker, Tally Tripp said that one of the goals of therapy with someone who has gone through some form of trauma is to work towards a narrative of that trauma in order to process the memories and the emotions associated with the trauma. This idea of the narrative being an important part of the healing process was intriguing to me and made me think about the narrative project that we were working on in art education. I wondered if comic books as an art form were ever utilized in therapy as creating a narrative is such a key component of working through trauma. A quick search led me to an interesting article discussing a therapeutic program for veterans returning from war where they create comic books about their experiences in order to help them deal with their traumatic experiences. This is a link to the article

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the military’s fringe-science wing — has launched an initiative meant to encourage U.S. troops returning from war to tell their own stories in comics form. They’ve given the the program a cumbersome, miljargon name, “Online Graphic Novel/Sequential Art Authoring Tools for Therapeutic Storytelling.” But the goal is fascinating: to help troops “process their memories and emotions” in a “graphic novel/sequential art format.”

This project is a great example of bringing the creative arts realm into the therapeutic for a new way to approach the healing process. The program aims to develop user-friendly online authoring tools to help service members express combat-related experiences through personal narratives in a graphic novel/sequential art format that will enable them to process their memories and emotions through healthy, constructive activities either directly or metaphorically.

This is a link to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency proposal for Therapeutic Storytelling Authoring Tools for Post-Traumatic Stress  GraphicNovelArtTherapyFinal

Comic Book therapy image 1

Comic Book therapy image 2

If I were to ever work with trauma victims in my future career, I would keep an eye open for an opportunity where such a project (as creating a visual narrative of a life or specific experiences) might be a helpful aid to the therapeutic work.

The following is my own visual narrative. I created it for two reasons, I relate with the idea of seeing a problem coming from a long way off and being completely incapable of stopping it. Secondly, I am terrified of trains. While I was in my first few years of college I knew people who were in a horrific train accident. Trains have made me nervous ever since. And I felt that depicting a train in art, having control over the process, gave me a little more control over my fear of them.

       To get into the nuts and bolts of the project. The paper is a Canson made paper specifically for creating comic strips. The lines on the paper are made in a specific shade of blue ink that is somehow not picked up by photo scanners, thus only the drawing would show up. This is why the first sketches of my comic strip were made in the same blue colored pencil (a pencil made for this specific reason). Then the drawings are  inked in with in this case a sharpee marker. The ink looks great but as you can see in the face frame must be dealt with carefully as they are permanent so mistakes will stay. In that particular frame my pen had exploded and ink smudged everywhere. The little things. This is a great project for anyone who is developed or cognitively functioning well enough to plan and organize their thoughts into a sequence that makes sense. This is why is was not great for younger children or for those who have cognitive impairments. But it might be an interesting way to evaluate the ability to organize thoughts and understand a sequence. A creative solution to understanding cognitive ability or development. Just a thought.


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