Allegany-Limestone art teacher Nicole Missel spent a week looking at her craft from a fresh perspective. She drew enough inspiration from the experience to last far longer.
“I came home from the last class, went right to the basement, and created an art space for myself,” said Missel, who’s been teaching art at ALCS for 15 years. “I’m inspired now to create art again, not just teach it. But this will also help me so much in the classroom, to be able to look at art in different ways.”
Missel was among 11 people — and one of eight art teachers — who just completed Constance Pierce’s one-week Imaging Journal class, an abridged version of the St. Bonaventure University art professor’s semester-long course, The Imaging Journal: Creative Renewal and the Inward Journey (VA 171).
Aspects of both journal writing and image making are joined together in potent combination in the process of creating an imaging journal, Pierce said. Part soul retrieval, part personal narrative, the intimacy of the sketchbook format allows images to surface from memory and imagination.
Guided explorations in monotype, watercolor, collage and expressively designed text prompt and companion the journal writing. The imaging journal reveals the artist’s interior life and its healing connection to the sacred whole, Pierce said.
For Joyce Kline, a therapeutic activities aide at Foundations for Change in Olean, the class will hopefully guide future group therapy she offers to clients.
“The healing quality of being able to channel thoughts in an imaging journal can help people convey feelings better if they are not as verbal as other people,” Kline said. “I think that can be very beneficial for some of our people with mental illness.”
Kline said she was “amazed at how well Constance was able to force us to make a visual image in our heads of memories or thoughts we had. I think the ability to do that will help a lot of the people I work with. And you don’t really have to be artistic to use some of the techniques she taught us.”
Other members of the class included Cathy Sirianni and Peggy Houser from Kane (Pa.) Area Schools, Jody Lowe and Sarah Smith from Portville Central, Amanda Burdick from Archbishop Walsh Academy, Lori MacArthur from Salamanca City Central, Sue Yauchzy from Frewsburg Central, and Evelyn Sabina and Miranda Armagost from SBU’s Quick Center for the Arts, which sponsored and organized the class.
“Imaging Journal is another way for our arts education outreach to impact thousands of schoolchildren and community members in the area,” said Joseph LoSchiavo, associate vice president and executive director of the Quick Center. “This event has made it possible for local teachers, therapists, and museum staff to share the concept of a visual journal with the community. We are grateful to the individuals and businesses who support this project and all of our arts education programs.”
Pierce has pioneered and taught her Imaging Journal courses at numerous institutions, including Yale Divinity School, Cleveland Institute of Art’s National Summer Program, Smithsonian Institution’s Campus on the Mall, and the graduate art therapy summer program of Ursuline (Ohio) College. Her own sketchbooks have been featured in an exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Yale Divinity School Library.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. No wonder U.S. News and World Report has for years considered us a “Great School at a Great Price.”