Date of this Version
This project grew out of mutual interests. In January of 2008, I briefly introduced myself to the students in my Honors 112 seminar, describing my most recent research on a women’s art collective that painted together in Houston, Texas, during the 1970s. That afternoon, I received an e-mail from Honors 112 student Aya Mares that was charged with enthusiasm for art as “fertile ground for change.”
Mimi had told our class that she was researching the Houston art collective, the Garden Artists, because her mother had been a member. She hoped to learn more about the workings of an art collective and art’s potential healing for a group of women, some of whom suffered from poor health or depression. I, too, am quite curious about the societal healing power of art, so I emailed Mimi asking her for any art therapy resources she might have come across in her research. This is where our project began.
I replied to Aya that perhaps we could combine our respective research questions—hers being particularly related to art activism, mine to art collectives, and both of us sharing a desire to study therapeutic aspects of art. We decided to submit a proposal to present on our collaborative research (which had yet to take place) at the 2008 NCHC Conference in October. Our proposal was accepted, so we gradually mapped out a research plan in which we would conduct oral histories over the summer with a variety of Maine artists, several of whom were members of art collectives.