You may have heard of art therapy and wondered, how do artists use art therapy? Time and again we’re convinced that we find certain artwork pieces that are a perfect example of art therapy used by the artists to find transformation answers to their own questions, and inspire hope within themselves.
First, a short description of a life event that lead to the creation of “The Olive Orchid’ which is inadvertently a vehicle for his own art therapy.
Missionary & Therapy for the Poor
Vincent Van Gogh first choice of vocation was in theology. Van Gogh’s father was a pastor and Vincent was hoping to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, he could not pass the language requirements to attend Theology Seminary School. So, at the age of 25, Vincent Van Gogh traveled to Belgium and volunteered as a missionary to a poor mining village community.
Although Van Gogh left this position only two years later -- his superiors claimed that he was being over-zealous by giving all of his possessions to the poor, and over emulating the poor with poor hygiene and dress. Vincent van Gogh thought that if he was to become like the impoverished that he was ministering to they would connect with his teachings more. His Cardinals did not like this idea, and asked him to leave his missionary position. This gravely affected him throughout the course of his life. And, gave him many unresolved questions.
A Vehicle of Healing in the Olive Orchid
Van Gogh painted a series of Olive Tree paintings exploring questions and answers regarding religious themes of life, death, and connecting to the divine. Which is one of art therapy's main goal - ask your question and find your answer through the art.
The Symbols Found in the Olive Orchid
The olive trees represents life itself. Furthermore, the people’s interaction with nature represents the divine cycle of life: harvesting and death.
What can we do to get closer to the divine during the course of our life?
In comparison to the harvesters, the olives are huge and the colors of the women seem to make them look like they are apart of the trees. These features further represent our interconnectedness to nature to reach the divine, and the hope it can provide.
His answer to his question that has pestered him has come through with this painting. As they women are apart of the orchid and are very much connected to their natural surroundings, he finds them central to the divine cycle of life. The women made their choice in their vocation that has taken them closer to nature and even closer to the divine. It is clear, by looking at many different works by Vincent van Gogh that he felt strongly about this idea. It seems he could only find the answer through art.