Anne Cameron Cutri

Anne Cameron Cutri
Northern, Pennsylvania, USA
November 09
This blog is about the journey from here to there. Early posts have devotional poetry and prose with scripture included. Many deal with the difficulty of having people in my life who are living with cancer and have died from cancer. Now I'm focusing on going back to college in my 50's and discovering a new path to direct my art--which is art therapy. _________________________________________ All of the artwork I created unless otherwise noted. If you'd like to buy one of my paintings or contact me to say oh, give me a million dollars to help me in my artistic endeavors : See my art and purchase prints here: orginals: merchandise: __________________________________________ The scriptures are usually taken from the New Revised Standard w/ apocrypha or the New King James.

Anne Cameron Cutri's Links

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 17, 2012 11:02PM

Internal Household of the Mind:An Art Therapy Directive

Rate: 25 Flag

If you missed it earlier, I’ve returned to school to get an Art Therapy Degree.(Mercyhurst University, Professor Robert Tavani originated this directive). Sometimes I feel crazy going back to school to get , yes, my first degree. I will have to go on to get a Master’s degree to be licensed. To go into such debt at this stage of the game seems, illogical from some angles, but if I don’t do it now --when? One of the assignments was to do an “internal household of the mind” We had to do at least 4 rooms, one being the “art therapy room”, one being the “unconscious room”. We were to represent people with objects, mine being represented by milkweed pods, a walnut, a shell, and an acorn.

First let me say that I dislike working with cardboard, but considering I used worn sand blasted items found at Presque Isle on Lake Erie, the whitewash on cardboard-- fit. Secondly, let me say I was wishing I had the dexterity of an 18 year old (like most of  my fellow students) when it came to constructing the hammock with the shell in it and working in tiny spaces.

By doing directives, that we as future art therapists may give as an exploratory assignment to a client, we have first hand experience in the complexity of the project and what emotions may surface because of it. The directive can be modified and simplified to fit the needs of the client. The following photos are my internal household.













































            The inspiration for my house came while taking a stroll at Presque Isle. I’ve always been happiest when I am near water. I enjoy beach combing, especially, at the beginning of the season before the park machines move away all the debris, and there is a plethora of driftwood and other beach treasures. I chose to make my house a triangle shape, all sides equal, because it has long been a symbol for me. It represents the sacred trinity, and it is half of the star of David. It points upward toward the higher realms, and the triangle configured in different ways creates many other shapes.

            I chose to make the art therapy room on the bottom floor. I represented the people in that room with milkweed pods. I chose to show a sand mandala, because of its meditative quality. I show the end of the process where the mandala is wiped away. This is a great exercise I would think, in detachment. I am too attached to my artworks, and I would like to be that free from the creations I make, by being able to “let go” of it at the end. I made a ladder in a spiral DNA-like shape that connects all the rooms. The spiral is another sacred shape and a recurring theme in my work. You can see it in nature as the foundation of architecture in shells, pine cones, and sunflowers to name a few.

            Interestingly, I chose to put the unconscious at the top. If the unconscious and the subconscious are the same, each of the words brings a different image to me.  In the past, when I have done Gestalt work on my dreams I would find my subconscious in the basement. Maybe because of the prefix “sub” that means under. But today, the unconscious is on the top and in a way, more easily accessible. I depicted this room to be small, but also a triangle because the unconscious is connected to the collective unconscious which is connected to the creator. Inside I dangled sequins to show sparks of light or insight into the unconscious. The whole room is covered in purple sand, giving it a velvety feel.

It is surrounded by milkweed seeds because they’re visually fragile and ethereal, but also they are seeds, which represent insight as in a “seed of an idea or thought”. What does this say about me?  The unconscious, though still a mystery in many ways, is accessible and more strongly connected to my conscious mind than it has been before.

            The next room is the intellectual room. You can climb the stairs to get there or go up the DNA ladder. The person there is the walnut. With all its crevices, it made a nice brain representation. This area is bigger too, than the other two rooms, because the intellect is one that is used and accepted in our society and world as the foundation for interaction, education and civilization. It’s what separates us from the animals, or so it is commonly thought. To the left is a hammock, with a person represented as a shell. This is the rest area. Again the spiral symbolism takes shape in the shell and the decor on the back wall. The next room is small and not as dark, but only able to enter through the DNA ladder. This is the contemplation room and the person is represented as a nut with a cross on it.

                Arrangement of characters: I arranged three of the characters in the art therapy room, because there is usually at least two, the client and the counselor. The third one can represent either group therapy or observation of therapy. There is only one in the intellectual, contemplative, and sleep areas because I sleep alone, I read alone and I pray alone. These things you can do in your mind and your body is still involved to a certain degree. There are no people in the unconscious room, because I see that purely as a spiritual, intuitive connection that doesn’t involve the body.

                What the unconscious room says about me: The triangle once again is mimicked in the posture of a meditative pose. Sitting cross-legged with arms relaxed our bodies are in a triangle. Though it may look enclosed it represents to me a wide-open place with many possibilities. It is also very private and individual at first, and at the same time, all-inclusive.

 One recalls Marwencol when thinking of this experience in a therapeutic way. “Playing house” is a natural imaginative game for children. Certainly for girls and there are many toys to encourage this imaginary game. Building a house and using one’s own symbols as character representations is an exemplary exploratory project. Historically as an art project, miniature architecture and towns are used in professional depictions to communicate a vision of a commercial building, home or subdivision.  Hobbyists enjoy making miniature environments when playing with miniature railroads and surrounding neighborhoods, or making their dream house with miniature furniture and accessories.


             Therapeutically this project can reveal much to the client and counselor. It can show how one interacts with others, how one knows oneself, how parts of the  conscious and unconscious are connected, and the structure of the id or ego in the construction of the house. This project also demands a great deal of decision making and physical dexterity. I could see that this project would be much too complex for many people—namely geriatrics, people with mental retardation, or limited motor skills, and  to children. It may help adults with bipolar, schizophrenia, or any displacement or severe mental disorder, to see how the client compartmentalizes or connects events or parts of themselves. One may simplify the project for clients, by supplying a pre-made box, or limiting the project to one room. For children and geriatrics, other elements would be provided, and the counselor could do the project with the client. For instance, ask the client what object would represent a family member, friend or someone else in their life. Then ask where they would place the object and what other “people” are in the house. Another way to simplify the project is by drawing the house and its components. If the project needed to be even more simplistic, for mentally challenged individuals or really small children, the house could be pre-drawn. Still another way to do it is to have pre-drawn household elements like shapes for rooms, with different objects that could represent décor in the room or people. The client could then put together the elements like a puzzle or blocks.


Over all I am enjoying the process of learning about art therapy, I wish I could do it everyday and get my degree a lot quicker. I hope you have enjoyed a little peak into art therapy.








mystical canvas prints

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I loved this post and your house. So imaginative and deep. I heard about a counselor who had bookshelves of items for the client to choose from and then they sat on each side of a sandbox and arranged the items in the sand. They talked about what they represented and they say it brought out lots of deep emotions. Keep us posted as to other things you learn and do. Fascinating.
I will zanelle, thanks! Yes it is very interesting. I wish I studied it a lot sooner!
what a fascinating program this must be...I would love it. I think it's wonderful that you're doing this -- because indeed, if not now--when? I wonder if Penny would ever be interested in doing a modified version of this project. I'd be so interested to see what she would come up with. Is your daughter ever willing to be a guinea pig with any of your projects?
It IS interesting that you put your unconscious on top... and I LOVE that you made a rest area-- complete with hammock.
Sometimes, my daughter is willing but mostly if it doesn't come from me or I happen to be doing something at a time when she wants to, this could be modified by drawing a house and perhaps to collage images on the floors or rooms of the house. Adolescents love to collage--I remember I liked to cut out words or images from my magazines and decoupage it on to a box etc.... same concept only more directed. Discussion of the piece is part of it too.
A lot to absorb, & a lot to read back up on, Anne.
Meantime : amazing, & wonderful.
Good to see you Anne, your piece here is as thoughtful as ever.
How did you have the patience for this, it's wonderful the way you weave it all together, leaves me inspired in many ways. Best regards in your new challenges, I admire your stamina.
Hi Kim and Rita, I've wanted to post for ever so long and then I thought, I'm writing for school, so why not post some of it here? I know the writing is long, but atleast I'll have out my efforts to some more use, and hopefully I'll get out and get a good job before it's time to retire!!
I thought all art was therapy.
Harry'sGhost: It is for some, but for some it causes great stress or it is a vehicle to express events or emotions when they don't have the words. Most people don't continue visual art past middle school, or whenever the public school stops teaching it. For us at Salon writing and art is part of who we are and our very breath but we're not the majority.
an interesting object, interesting process
It's quite obvious to me that you are quite artistic. Good luck with earning your degree! Hopefully the economy will be better by the time you graduate.
Kenneth, yes it is an interesting process!

I love life, I agree, that is one of the motivations of pursuing a degree at this stage!
Art and therapy have connotations of touchy feely, but your Dream House exercise proves the skeptics wrong... I can think of nothing that could reach so deep inside a person as the expression of their Dream House, or Dream Car, or Dream Dress... In my case it would be my Dream Restaurant... check out my latest post to see my Dream Meal. It was a great exercise and made me feel a whole lot better about my predicament.

Hope you do well in all your endeavors.
dart, thanks for stopping by

jmac1949: the imagination is a wonderful thing and can take us away from terrible experiences or heighten our awareness to new inspirations. I did check out your dream meal and it looks wonderful!
Very enjoyable post. Thank you for sharing this with us. If you get certified, please come to my mom's nursing home and work with the patients. They would love it. Rated.
First, I love The Angel that you know. I wonder if we know her too.
Now, as I read and see all that you have done with this exploration, I can only wonder if you’ve had a year to think this through ... never mind actually creating it.

One other thought when offering a task like this might be the artistically challenged ... or terrified. If you held my hand step by step, part of me would be frozen in time. My exposure to art therapy has been far more basic, far more hoping to simply free, to unlock what may not be reached another way. I often thought of having a sandbox in my office ... to offer a chance to speak without words. Perhaps the sandbox made me feel safe as well ... an art I could begin to see.

I am moved by the complexity here ... in the structure itself and then in your explanation of how it came to you and what it means for you.

Lovely to watch and listen as you walk this path, Anne.
Erica, I may just do that, I don't know if geriatrics would be my forte, but I'm really to give it a shot!

Annaliese: The Angel that I know---are you referring to my digital painting on my website? Also, I get the feeling that these directives that we are given, are not the norm, or must be modified for budget, time and clientele. I doubt there would be many situations that we could do the above in it's entirely unless in a residence situation where the was plenty of time and materials. Sand and clay are wonderfully tactile mediums that take us back to our inner child.

The nice thing about art is there is no right answer.Art is the process of exploration and expression that is it's key component. Imagination and creativity are it's lovers.
Yes, the Angel there ... and how I love your last words here.
Lovely lovers ... these ...
Your house is awesome, every detail...I love the mandala. Thanks for sharing your work here!
Hi clayball, nice to meet you and thank you!
Hi again.
It was good to read your previous post ; indeed good to you you here again !
Amazing how these New Directions turn up in our lives, & when ~ it's as if Someone is guiding us ! ;-)
I love the idea of rooms. They can be discrete compartments ; they can have locks on the doors ; all on the same level ; ascending like yours ; or no walls at all, even, yet still somehow 'rooms.'
I love the way you began, & that mandala. I think of the Tibetans, or our indigenous people here ~ the impermanence & the childlike wonder at colour.
I love the many, & many-shaped windows, & windows inside.
I'm surprised more of them aren't ( cellophane ) stained glass ;-)
Most of all I love how you turn your psyche into a tangible thing, open to the air, & open to change.
In the 13th picture, of the middle room, I see the ocean out the window, & a boat ! Am I imagining that ?
Wonderful post, thank you Anne.
Kim, I never noticed the boat out the window but there it is! I hope it is a sign of things to come--it is my dream to live by the water somewhere.....I have missed all of has taken this long to find my bearings, to recover from Pat's death, to move up North and to start parents are getting older and need one of us close to help out once in a while.....and my daughter needs some time to adjust and see herself in a new way too....another beginning!
I loved your house. What a fun project!
Anne,excellent work here...I think I am gonna make me a dream house.What an exciting degree you are about to have.So useful and needed.Art Therapy Degree,so indeed useful.Rated with best regards
Hum, therapy for what and for whom are all counter balances of our soul, our identity and who we allow to see what. Amazing isn't it? I loved your work, it was wonderful conglameration of all the strnage and unique things that people partake and make their own. In their own realms where no one can see them except themselves. That is when we are closests in my mind to our creative self, the self that can feel many things, the outer self we share with others, and the inner self with which we take much pleasure in ensuring our codes of behavior are in check with many of our teachings. And the list goes on from there, I admire your courage to start again, but today you are in good company as you could tell by your classmates. There are schools now offering Master Degree programs on line for those that work as well. What a kick in the pants, it makes it look as if those that don't work, might as well be sitting with fannies in a chair indulging on an endless stack of pancakes with brimming cups of coffee waiting to be inhaled. Lol it certainly isn't, good luck with your art therapy and congrats on your EP.
Patience P, STAHISTAHI, and MOMSACOMIC, If you click on the link of Marwencol you can see a whole neighborhood that a man made to deal with PTSD, he is so identified with his transference of himself to the imaginary world, that he refers to his doll wife as if it is his real wife. That world of his is a more of a "dream house" or "dream neighborhood" scenerio, the above is showing the internal as a house.
Utterly fascinating. I love the photos, and your explanation of the house. Both so well done and insightful. I think that for the visual artists here, this kind of project could be an inspiration. I know it makes me think about what my own "household of the mind" would look like. Of course, I am in no way gifted at the visual arts, alas, much as I appreciate them. I guess mine will stay in my mind!

Thanks so much for sharing this.
Thanks Alysa though you're very gifted with words!
Anne, this was just an amazing post, so beautiful and creative. I know very little about art therapy, strange to say. Maybe because I'm not at all capable of making art. I'd like to hear and see more of what can be done for others with this form of therapy. You are so talented, just great. R
This is very interesting and your house is incredible. Congratulations on your passion and determination!
Wendyo, thank you , I do intend to write more about it, up next the self mask....when I get it back from the professor. Until then I may did through some other things we did, for further blogs.

THERANGER1, thank you, I find it interesting as well.
Astonishing - you had me at the tiny sand mandala. Beautiful, thought-provoking, and inspiring me to (at least draw) my own internal household. Art therapy is a wonderful thing.
I am truly in awe. How beautiful and inspiring, to say the least. ~r
Ann and Joan, this is a dream come true, I have always wanted to use my art to help people, inspire people, and empower people and I'm finally getting my chance!
Kudos to you! This is awesome. R
I think all artistic and creative expressions are, in and of themselves, learning tools for ourselves, and thus, always therapeutic to some degree. It's directed art therapy, provided in the fashion of attempting to get at underlying issues with people who cannot (or will not) verbalize them that makes the real difference between personal therapeutics and actual therapy to assist or facilitate someone to move on and grow from those issues and their explorations.

This is wonderfully creative and I enjoyed it very much.

A quick opinionated note:
Subconscious means that which is below the surface of conscious thought and reflection. Unconscious lacks a component of thought -- it is simple action/reaction without thought, conscious, subconscious or superconscious. Animal reflex would fall under this category.

Of course, that's just the way I interpret their overall psychological or physiological meaning, though I find that, whatever words you choose to apply, making clear the defined meanings and their implications is necessary to have meaningful conversation with others using the same words and interpreting differently.

As an example, one might call this an unconscious Freudian slip:
"...and the person is represented as a nut with a cross on it," for your description of the person's avatar in the Contemplation Room. I thought it was funny and it stood out to me. This doesn't say anything about you, in my opinion, but it tells you volumes about me.

Maybe that's the point of directed Art Therapy. To be able to provide someone with a medium other than words to create and build a simulacrum of their deep seated and unverbalized (for whatever reasons they may have) issues from which the therapist might make pointed observations and ask questions of the patient in order to draw them out and come to a place where they can start to verbalize and consciously deal with those issues in some progressive fashion.

Congratualtions on recognizing, "If not now, when?" It is always easier to do something later and then let it fade from possibility as something you shoulda, coulda, woulda in another life, another instance, another path.

I hope you continue to post stuff like this as you learn. I find it immensely intersting to see what goes on in the rooms of others' heads.

intriguing project. It makes me want to try building one.
dunniteowl: Thank you for your thoughtful commentary. As for the Freudian slip, thank you for owning your interpretation, for me the moment I decide the shapes become something else the are no longer the thing they once were. (i.e. the milkweed pods are flame shaped to me so represent a person in creative process or passionate about something, the walnut represents the intellect and the acorn without it's cap also a sort of flame shape as it sits though more subdued, represents contemplation or meditation.

deloresflores, I think you should build one, only I recommend foam core, it behaves much better under the xacto blade and stiffer so it doesn't bend so easily.
What a great peak into art therapy. Your internal household is full of wonder. One of my dear friends just got her masters in art therapy and now has a full time job as an art therapist. She loves it and is happy she stayed with the program although she was the oldest student there.
Well deserved EP
rated with love
Romantic, thanks for sharing about your friend, since I, too, am the oldest student, that she was able to find employment gives me a boost of encouragement.
I looked at where you were located so that I may refer people to this. Art therapy is the most effective things I have seen used in recent years...this is wonderful. Thank you for detailing each piece.
You're right BrazenPrincess, Art Therapy gives a voice and expression to the unspoken. Many people were told, especially in violent or abusive situations to keep their mouth shut. Some feelings have pushed down so long, it's hard to know where to begin. Directed Art Psychotherapy can really help.
How'd I miss this? terrific! all-best in art school!