Tracy Ferron discusses the power of art making to heal trauma and build community in her film, From Walls to Wings: The Power of Archetypal Art, for the Art Together Now: Art for Social Justice Conference for the Northern California Art Therapy Association, July 2020. Tracy shares her personal healing journey and the birth of Life on Earth Art. The full presentation is available here: https://vimeo.com/437290959.
What sparked Tracy's mid-life transformation from stuck housewife into public and community art activist was a Big Dream in 2016. During her studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Tracy dreamt of a woman sacrificed and immured, or built, into the basement wall of a castle. At the end of the dream, this Walled Woman emerged from the bricks, an indomitable goddess.
Ferron researched this archetypal image, the immured woman, throughout cultures and time and began a quest to understand not only her personal walls of trauma but the walls throughout history in which women and divine feminine consciousness have been immobilized and suspended. Tracy used Jungian Active Imagination techniques to interact with both the Walled Woman and her murderer, and was inspired to create Walled Woman conceptual art, photography and poetry. This Walled Woman project led Tracy to a deeper understanding of her own childhood trauma and revealed to her the power of art to unlock the unspeakable and to help heal and integrate the lost parts of self. Tracy as artist emerged.
The symbol of a caged winged heart became the central metaphor in Tracy's art practice. New creative collaborations blossomed with synchronicity into her first large scale installation at the Museum of Sonoma County in 2018. Installed for the Museum's annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit, Los Olvidados Liberados featured 50 winged hearts flying out of a 15-foot-high cage.The hearts in the cage had black and white wings, but as they flew free through the two-story gallery, the wings gained increasing color and pattern. The piece was inspired by and dedicated to the 1,000 children medically experimented on at Sonoma State Hospital in the 1950s. Tracy arranged a community ritual dedicated to these forgotten children with a sound healing to symbolically release them.
It was through the response to this art exhibit that Tracey's project Life on Earth Art was born - from walls to wings. Life on Earth Art works with the symbology of winged hearts and cages to explore trauma and issues of imprisonment and liberation. Today, Life on Earth Art has three large installations with cages, and over 100 winged hearts that range in size from 3 feet to 15 feet. Tracy's vision is to have these installations tour, exploring different social justice issues and offering healing expressive art-making workshops to communities around the country.
Life on Earth Art community workshops inspire connectivity, resilience and transformation. In the workshops, participants make papier-mache winged hearts, using the traditional Mexican cartoneria process. The organic and repetitive nature of papier-mache motions are soothing and healing as participants explore and integrate biographical narratives in a safe container.
The goal is to amplify compassion: for self, for others, and for the planet.
Tracy is looking for interested art therapists with whom to collaborate and is excited to present with Roberta Wentzel-Walker at the upcoming NorCATA conference.