Student Spotlight

My students are amazing! I have been reading over work from past workshop participants and I find their words clarifying and inspiring. I thought this reflection paper, written by one of my Spring 2013 students would be interesting for you to read. The author is open about his personal process, while also shedding light on how the Expressive Arts can be powerful tools for all of us.

The images included are pieces he created during the workshop, and the mask pictured in the top image is the one featured in the dialogue down the side of the article. I hope you enjoy! Please tell me what you think. What does this bring up for you? How have you used the expressive arts for self-understanding?

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Self-Understanding Through The Expressive Arts

A student’s words, reflecting upon his experience in
“The Expressive Arts As Healing Pathways”,
a for-credit workshop series offered to
students of The Evergreen State College, 2013.

Prior to starting Mo’s workshops, I thought of myself as a semi-creative person, but only with abstract art. In order to break down barriers and creative blocks, Mo had us create with our non-dominant hand during the first week’s workshop. This experience helped me to release control and not think so much about the final outcome of my work. I found it challenging to trust my own intuition and create without having a plan, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Being witnessed really helped to solidify my experience and validate my emotions. Sharing my authentic feelings allowed for a deep connection within the group field; allowing for connections to form on a profound level.

I have found that letting go of the outcomes and trusting in the creative process is a form of meditation. Allowing the images and colors to emerge organically has led to unbelievable artwork that gives me a glimpse into my soul.


The multi-modal process allowed me to dive deeper into my feelings and better understand my thoughts and experiences. Transitioning from painting to dancing, I was able to embody my artwork, which planted a deep seed of knowledge within my core. Moving from dancing to writing, I was able to articulate the way I was feeling.
Over the course of this workshop series, I have experienced a wide range of emotions and through the expressive arts process I have been able to channel them in a healthy and coherent way.

I hold the deepest appreciation for Mo within my heart, seeing as this wisdom wouldn’t have been possible without her guidance. The expressive arts is a healing process; a process that is unique to every person and waiting to come alive.


I was learning to love all of my “shadow” and “dark” sides; my wrongs and my rights. I slowly began to accept myself for who I have been and who I know myself to be.

The expressive arts process is indeed a healing process.


Throughout the workshops, I slowly began to realize my individuality and unique self. 


Throughout the workshops, I slowly began to realize my individuality and unique self. 

A Specific Example:

During one workshop, I spent around an hour studying my face in different size mirrors. After really getting to know my exterior and listening to the thoughts that arose in my mind, I used plaster to sculpt a mask onto my face.

During this process, I looked around the room at other participants and found myself doubting my process. I thought my mask wasn’t good enough; it didn’t cover my entire face like her’s did. Once I peeled the mask off, I began to have a dialogue with it, asking it questions and listening for answers.

Me: Who am I?
Mask: You are me and I am you.
Me: What do others see when they look at me?
Mask: They see what they want to see… Why does it matter to you? What’s important is what you see in yourself. Don’t let others change your mind of who you are. Some will try and know that this is only a test.
Me: Do you care about me?
Mask: Yes. I haven’t always cared. I’m learning to love you for you; this includes all of your mistakes and darkest days, your efforts and your victories. I’m learning to love and accept your past so you can be content with your present, in order to move toward the future. I do care about you.

After this process, I came to the understanding that I am a unique and special person, just like every other living being on this planet. I think and look differently than everyone one else and that is what makes our world and myself a beautiful thing. I believe this is the point in the workshop where I learned about authenticity and what it means for me to be my true self. The following week, I returned to my mask and had another dialogue:

Mask: Do you want to put me on?
Me: Yes.
Mask: Go ahead.
Me: You don’t fit! You fit perfectly on my face last week, I don’t understand! I thought I was you and you were me.
Mask: I may have fit you last week, but you grow and change everyday, even every second. I’m still a part of you, however, I am not you. I am only a mask.

This dialogue exemplifies the fact that the expressive arts can’t be planned or predicated; things flow organically and the way they were meant to, which leads to new insights.