What Material Am I Now? A Phenomenological Tool

What Material Am I Now?  A Phenomenological Tool


“What material am I now?” is a valuable question and tool that I often practice with students, therapists, supervisees, and clients in our first session. It is based on an intuitive choice of material or object which, only later, through the process, will reveal its many unfolded meanings and why it was chosen. Working with this question tool bypasses art knowledge and criticism and, very naturally, uses the right-brain, nonlinguistic hemisphere. It is a universal intuitive point of view that works well in our multi-cultural society, as I have observed where I
have worked, in Israel, Italy, and Japan.”

The Good Enough Studio, 2020

I use this process in workshops for educators or therapists. On a low table in the center of a circle one by one, people will introduce themselves through an object or a material that describes them best at this time.

The Good Enough studio, Nona Orbach

Here are a few examples:

Earth and roots from my garden.” Efrat Tamir, Israel, 2013.

This was brought to a college course for art educators and was displayed on the table in the middle of the circle of the first session. As I know Efrat well today, this image is an accurate metaphorical portrait of her deep social abilities to s create changes and cooperate in teams and with students. All are rooted in a deep understanding of pedagogy.

I lately began baking bread, so I brought wet dough I made last night.” Nurit Rimon, 2013

After a few weeks besides baking, she began also to draw huge bread loafs with 6B pencils. The image is from a final exhibition at the college – 2014

Majda Halabi Marie lives in Majdal Shams, in the Golan Heights, which is part of Israel today. She defines herself as a Syrian artist. It is important to note that the Golan Heights was occupied by Israel in 1967 and many families from the Druze community in the Golan Heights live on both sides of the border. Her art deals with this tragedy.

When it was her turn to introduce the material that represents her she said:

I brought a cloud. A cloud is not restricted to borders; it is free.

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Majda Halabi Marie , Minority, oil on canvas 160X100cm, 2017 

This tool, as you can see, can hold diversity in a multicultural society like Israel.

I used it in Japan and Italy, and it is always fascinating.

More examples of such items that were brought in are milk, batteries, a red string, a tin spoon,
a stone from Mom’s garden, autumn leaves, a key. The choices are genuine, and years after, we can see through the art-making how it is still linked to the person’s inner blueprint.

What material are you now?

Please share your thoughts with us when you try it.

Upper image by Gali Atiya 



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