Eco-Human Theory and Practice
ISSN 2713 – 184x
Ecophilosophy
Ecopsychology
Ecotherapy
Eco Art Therapy
Ecological Education
The "Green" Arts
Eco-aesthetics
Home \ Articles \ EDITORIAL: THE RELEVANCE OF ECOPOIESIS AND A POIETIC ECOLOGY FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS AND ARTS THERAPIES

EDITORIAL: THE RELEVANCE OF ECOPOIESIS AND A POIETIC ECOLOGY FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS AND ARTS THERAPIES

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EDITORIAL: THE RELEVANCE OF ECOPOIESIS AND A POIETIC ECOLOGY FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS AND ARTS THERAPIES

We are proud to present this issue of the Ecopoiesis journal, based on an eco-human framework for the arts therapies. We use the term “eco-human” to highlight the human being’s essential belongingness to a world, a world in which we are shaped and which we shape in response. During this critical period of human existence, the journal is meant to serve as a forum for innovative ideas and practices that support human and environmental health and well-being, ideas and practices based on poiesis, our ability to transform the world with a view to beauty.

Populations all over the world, as well as the global web of life itself, are being threatened in the current situation of environmental crisis, with its wide-ranging social, psychological and economic impact. In such a situation, we are challenged to search for a new foundation for human and environmental healing, a foundation that embraces the humanities, the arts and ecology, and one that supports resilience and our capacity for life-affirming creative responses to environmental destruction.

This issue highlights the role of ecological/nature-assisted arts therapies as such a creative response to the current situation of demands for sustainable development. It establishes an eco-human understanding of the arts and arts therapies and emphasizes their role in the process of paradigm change, the development of environmental awareness and of ways of life that enable living beings not only to continue to exist but also to thrive. The issue also presents “eco-human technologies” that embrace a wide spectrum of nature-assisted, environmental creative endeavors and their application in various segments of life.

Though a growing number of publications on ecological/nature-assisted arts therapies have appeared in the last few years [1,3,4,5], the present issue hopes to be a step further in presenting a new perspective for the expressive and creative arts therapies in the 21st century.

The idea of the theme for this issue comes from the spirit of natural and cultural ecology and from a renewed understanding of the role of the arts and arts therapies in human and planetary life. The words that sum up this vision are “ecological,” “earth-based,” or “nature-assisted”  arts therapies, therapies that promote the capacity of human beings to respond to and transform difficulty and suffering through our creative ability and our capacity to bring health, well-being and beauty into our own existence and to that of the world around us.

The concept of ecopoiesis, introduced to the field of the arts therapies, is based on the idea of the poietic nature of human existence as subjects who belong to the world and are capable of transforming it, as opposed to thinking of the human being as a disembodied consciousness in an alien environment, a “for-itself” separate from the “in-itself” of Being. The concept is intended to provide a foundation necessary to consider human beings in their relations with the more-than-human realm, the web of life, as willing and able to take care of their “earthly home,” guided not only by their needs, but also by the desire to maintain biodiversity and environmental well-being.

Why ecopoiesis? Poiesis was a word brought into expressive arts therapy to ground the foundations of the field in a philosophy of human existence, rather than in a psychological framework [2]. The term was taken from the work of Martin Heidegger, who formulated an understanding of human existence in terms of a poietic or artistic relationship to the world. In the words of the poet Hölderlin, as quoted by Heidegger, “poetically we dwell upon this earth.”

Human beings are fundamentally eco-human, that is, we cannot separate our existence from the world around us. This has become clear in our own time, the Anthropocene, in which our activity has transformed the world. However, to exist as human is not to take an instrumental attitude towards the world, one in which we impose our will upon what is around us. Rather, our essential capacity is to shape the world in a way that respects its otherness. This is the poietic disclosure of the world which shows us its inherent possibilities. Through an attitude of respect for otherness, we can shape our world to let things shine as they are–in other words, to let their beauty be seen.

What does this perspective imply for the arts therapies? We believe that this is actually the fundamental attitude of therapeutic work, in particular, the work of the arts therapies. In therapy, we do not impose our will upon the other person and try to make them be who we think they should be. Rather we take a receptive attitude and help them to see their own possibilities for development. This attitude is often called “holding,” a term originally used by D. W. Winicott to indicate the relationship of the mother to the child but also the relationship of the therapist to the client. If the child is held according to her own needs rather than those of the mother, she can have a secure basis on which to act in the world.

For Winicott, the child finds herself through play. Similarly, the holding of the therapist makes a frame within which clients can find themselves through a playful letting-be. Moreover, Winnicott understands play as the basis of creativity. In the creative process, the artist plays with materials and helps them find a new form. Art-making may be a “shaping,” but a shaping that takes place through a letting-be similar to the practice of the therapist. This shaping takes place not through an attitude of passivity but by means of a receptive process of guiding by artist or therapist. This is the letting-be that we call “poiesis.”

In the arts therapies, the fundamental attitude is a poietic one. We use our skills to guide clients into an actualisation of their own potentials, to become who they are. Thus, the arts therapies seem to be particularly suitable as exemplars of an ecopoietic relationship to the world. Within such a relationship, the Anthropocene, understood as humanity’s destruction of the environment, could be transformed into a healthy and creative response to the world in which we dwell, a response which enables the beauty of the earth to shine.  And in this way, we may indeed someday “dwell poetically” on this earth.

Alexander Kopytin                                                     

Stephen K. Levine

References

  1. Atkins, S. S., and Snyder, M.A. (2018). Nature-based expressive arts therapy: integrating the expressive arts and ecotherapy. – London and Philadelphia, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018.
  2. Levine, S.K. (1997). Poiesis: The language of psychology and the speech of the soul. London & Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  3. Heginworth, I.S., Nash, G. (Eds.) (2019). Environmental arts therapy
    the wild frontiers of the heart
    . New York: Routledge.
  4. Kopytin, A., Rugh, M. (Eds.) (2016). Green studio: nature and the arts in therapy. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. 
  5. Kopytin, A., Rugh, M. (2017). Environmental expressive therapies: nature-assisted theory and practice. New York: Routledge/Taylor&Francis.

 



About the journal

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.