Stories & Transcripts
The stories to follow are recorded here as indicators of how powerfully the experiential artworks being co-Created by Sheri Herr, can impact a human life. Conveyed to the artist in writing, by phone, or in person, they represent only a handful of moving stories she has received. They are perhaps the best indicator of why she has chosen to continue to create and share this art no matter the challenge.
(Various art products, manufactured by The Fine Art of Feelings (FAOF) from 1995 to 2002. were used in these stories. They have not been available for sale since FAOF was closed in 2002. Eye Am Experience has plans to return the various products to market. based on customer demand.)
STORY 1 – THE TACTILE IMPACT OF ONE SCULPTURE
WHO: A therapist in Indiana working with an adult female client
ART: Abandoned Sculpture
SITUATION: The Client had seen the therapist in 4 previous sessions. The therapist believed that the client had suffered abuse during childhood however; the first sessions had not brought any progress toward the client’s emotions or revealed any such abuse. In each previous session, the client had picked up the Abandoned Sculpture from the table in front of her without invitation. She held the sculpture in her lap during the entire sessions, never looking at or referring to it.
The therapist and client were about half way through the session, which again was talk about current situations. Suddenly, the client stopped mid-sentence. She sat silently, staring forward with a blank look on her face. After waiting several minutes, the therapist asked the client if she would say what was happening. The client did not answer. Another few minutes of silence transpired until the client looked at the therapist with tears in her eyes and said, “The baby is awake.” The therapist waited for a fuller explanation but the client was silent. Finally, the therapist asked again, what was happening. The client said, “The baby, she is awake.” More silence. The Therapist asked her to explain what she meant. Looking down at the sculpture and then back at the therapist she said, “She has warmed up, she is awake.” The Client began to cry and soon realized that what she was feeling was the child within herself who had been sleeping for many years. In her sessions to follow, the client talked about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and began to make rapid progress toward her healing. She continued to hold the sculpture in her session.
STORY 2 – A YOUNG CHILD & “THE LITTLE GUYS” FEELING BEADS
WHO: A therapist in Wisconsin treating young children
ART: “The Little Guys” Set of 12 Feeling Beads
SITUATION: Child, age 7, had seen the therapist 4 previous sessions. She was displaying symptoms of being very anxious and was in joint custody of parents.
THE STORY – From the Written Transcript of the Session:
Child: What’s in the box?
Child: (Opening bags with beads in each one) – Little people, they are all different.”
Child: (begins to arrange and examine in sandbox)
Child: Where are the big ones, the mom and dad?”
Therapist: There are no big ones
Child: But I need bigger ones for parents
Therapist: No, because they are feelings and child feelings are as big as adult feelings, did you know that?
Child: They are?
Therapist: Yes – adults have bigger bodies but kid feelings are just as big as adults.
Child: My feelings are?
Child: (picking up the “Angry” bead) He is angry…the dad…(Some time passes, small talk, then)
I get very scared when my dad is mad, mad enough to kill …
(followed by a torrent of words)
Therapist I think you are very scared
Child: She’s scared (the bead), no I’m scared, very scared, but don’t tell, it’s not safe.
STORY 3 – LAURA’S PENDANT, A BLESSED GOOD LUCK CHARM
WHO: Laura, a woman in Texas, accompanied her husband to a Marriage and Family Therapy Conference.
ART: The “Self-Love” Sterling Silver Pendant
SITUATION: While attending the conference with her husband in February of 1997, Laura purchased the pendant as a gift for her sister. Upon returning home, she wore the pendant herself to work and many of the staff members thought it symbolized the fetus that she had recently miscarried. She became concerned realizing that her sister had just had an abortion and might also see it as a fetus. She decided to call the artist. She started their conversation by sharing with Sheri about her challenge to get pregnant and about the three miscarriages she and her husband had endured. She explained her concern about giving the pendant to her sister. Laura did not ask to return the pendant but rather seemed perplexed about what to do. Sheri shared with Laura that she had noticed it had taken Laura a long time to decide if she was going to purchase the pendant at the conference. Because Sheri knows the artworks reflects for each viewer what is right for them to see, she suggested to Laura that she keep the pendant as long as needed and added, “Who knows why it is in your life or of what important it might be? Maybe it is not meant to be yours or maybe it is a good luck charm.” Sheri assured Laura that she could return the pendant at any time but encouraged her to be with the pendant and learn why it was in her life. The story below arrived by phone over two years later.
THE 13-YEAR STORY:
Two weeks after Laura’s phone call to Sheri, she learned that she was pregnant. Remembering the artist’s words about the pendant being a good luck charm, she put the necklace on day after day and took it off only to sleep. At night, she placed the pendant on the nightstand to keep it close. When she was concerned about losing this child, she would hold the pendant and believe in its luck. In October 1997, Laura gave birth to Colleen Elizabeth. A close friend, knowing of the significance of the good luck charm, and being a jeweler, made a tiny silver charm to honor the baby’s birth to hang next to “The Little Guy” on the chain.
A few months later, Laura learned that one of her best friends, Susan, had also been trying for some time to have a child. Laura told Susan of the pendant and of her belief in it being a good luck charm. She gave the pendant to Susan and two weeks later Susan learned she was pregnant. Susan wore the pendant every day as Laura had, taking it off only to sleep. In January 1999, Susan gave birth to Laura Elena. Laura purchased another tiny silver charm for baby Laura to put on the chain.
When Laura called to tell the Sheri this news, she said that now a third woman had come into her and Susan’s lives. The woman and her husband had also been trying for some time to have a child without success. Laura and Susan had decided to give the Pendant to her, now containing two tiny charms.
In July of 2006, Sheri received an email from Laura saying, …”(the pendant) has now exchanged hands by 7 different people with stories that are all a sacred blessing to tell. …the piece began its journey because of a lost baby, and continued with the mother’s of 7 who have been determined to have their own baby. I just got the piece back after 5 years and the last story relates to a Colombian baby that was adopted.”
The next email came in May of 2010…”The necklace just came back to me again, #8, and is off tomorrow on Mother’s day. This next one is going to be a tough one. Just wanted you to know that my life chain is still circulating. Would you like me to send you a picture of it?
Sheri of course said YES!
Sheri awaits Laura’s next update!
STORY 4 – A “LITTLE GUY” CREATES AN ARTIST
WHO: A Pastoral Counselor in Illinois treating a Multiple Personality Disorder Client
ART: “The Little Guys” Sculpture Series©
SITUATION: The Counselor had seen this client for many months and owned the set of sculptures prior to treating her. However, the counselor was always careful to put the set of sculptures away before this client’s arrival fearing that their presence might cause a personality split. On this day, the counselor forgot.
The client entered the room and immediately saw the sculptures. She walked over to the shelf and became very upset. She began to rant and rave, tearing things up from her purse, storming around the office, cursing, moving from one sculpture to the next. The counselor sat quietly, admittedly scared, affirming the clients expressed feelings and reminding herself that the artist had once told her that the sculptures would never harm anyone.
Finally, after nearly 45 minutes of rage, the client calmed down and sat on the couch. The counselor asked the client how she felt. The client replied, “I really needed that! I feel much better.” As the session wound down, the counselor shared with her that she knew the artist and the client wondered if she would ask the artist to make a Grief Sculpture with a pink heart (usually purple). The session ended.
That week the Counselor conveyed the story to the artist over lunch and asked about ordering a sculpture with a pink heart. Sheri declined to accept the special order and instead suggested that the Counselor tell her client the name of the clay she uses to sculpt and to convey a message from the artist that she thought the client could most likely sculpt her “self” best. The next session the Counselor relayed the information and message.
The third week the client arrived carrying her new sculpture complete with pink heart in hand. For the first time in the client’s life, she had not split off into an alternate personality for a week! However, during her session another personality emerged and destroyed the sculpture. This infuriated the client and from that point on she began to work more diligently to merge the personalities so that she would not lose the art she had created. For months, she drew and sculpted to assist her with her healing. As the healing progressed, she began to paint. The client continues to create beautiful works of art. As for the Counselor, one of her favorite things in her office is the work of art given to her by this client upon completion of her therapy.
STORY 5 – “THE LITTLE GUYS” GO TO MEN’S GROUP
WHO: A Substance Abuse Counselor in Arizona and his Men’s Group
WHAT: The Fear Sculpture
SITUATION: The Counselor had been meeting weekly with a men’s group for nearly two years. Before the session described below, there had been little emotional work done by the group. On this evening, the Counselor placed the Fear Sculpture in a small brown bag and put it on a chair in the middle of the room prior to the meeting. Facing the chair with the bag was another empty chair. As group began the Counselor asked one simple question, “What do you think is in the bag?”
At first, all the men joked about what might be in the bag and finally the consensus was that it was their Counselor’s lunch. The Counselor then told the group member that when someone was ready, they could go sit in the empty chair and open the bag to see what was inside. (Note: the artist had explained to the Counselor when he purchased the sculptures that the most important thing for the Counselor to do when using the sculptures was to “allow” the art to do what it is here to do) The Counselor, very uncomfortably waited for five long minutes in silence. He watched the clock thinking that no one was going to move. Finally, one member of the group got up, moved to the center of the circle and slowly opened the bag. He held the little sculpture in his hands for only a few second and began to cry. With that he started talking about his young childhood and how he had been sexually abused. (This had not been previously divulged to the Counselor or the Group) After a powerful process, facilitated by the Counselor, the man finished and placed the sculpture back in the bag and onto it’s chair.
One at a time the men took the empty chair, each talking the sculpture from the bag and each placing it back into the bag for the next man (this amazed the Counselor since he didn’t tell them to do so) Every man had a powerful response to the sculpture and spoke of emotions. The Counselor felt it was the most powerful session he had ever witnessed. He relayed that the following week the men ask where the sculpture was. He then brought out the Set of Nine Sculptures and passed them around. For weeks to come, as the men entered the meeting room, they would ask, “Where are “The Little Guys?” According to the Counselor a few weeks later, the presence of the sculptures had shifted the group to a new level where the men felt comfortable and safe to share their emotions.
Further, the Counselor shared that those first five minutes were the toughest he had ever spent being a counsel. He felt he had learned a lot about himself from this experience.
STORY 6 – A COUPLE AND THE “CARING” SCULPTURE
WHO: A Marriage and Family Therapist in Illinois treating a couple for marital problems.
ART: “Caring” – A Limited Edition Sculpture
SITUATION: The couple had been seeing the Therapist for 29 sessions as outpatients in a pastoral clinic. Both husband and wife had had affairs. During this session, the husband was relating a story of early experiences that left him unable to trust anyone, withdrawing when troubled, unable to believe his wife or anyone could acknowledge or meet his needs. He described feeling guilty when he asked for anything; saw his role as the provider, the strong one. He described childhood experiences when he felt vulnerable (very moving accounts of early memories). The Therapist asked the wife to pick up the vulnerable figure in the Caring Sculpture and imagine what it would be like to feel that vulnerable and to imagine what someone who feels like that would need.
THE STORY – From the Transcript of the Session::
Therapist: (Asks the wife to give the vulnerable figure to her husband and to hold the other figure). She asks, what would it be like to be in that position in your relationship with (husband’s name)? What does the holder feel?
Wife: Like a sponge – taking away some of the hurt – clearing up old messes – people who hurt him.
Therapist: (To husband who is holding vulnerable figure) What does that one need?
Husband: To be held, be supported, made not to be afraid, to be told it is OK.
Therapist: Do you think (wife’s name) will be able to do that for you?
Husband: NOW I do. There was a time when I would have said “no”, but now I believe she will.
(Therapist’s Note: This couple has come a long way in therapy since this session. They have increased their capacities to be more vulnerable with each other and more empathetic. They can now each take turns regressing and being held by the other. The use of the “Caring’ Sculpture has definitely facilitated this process. It serves as a visual reminder that they can carry with them. Being able to hold these sculptures at various points of the therapy has allowed them to have tactile and visual experience increasing the power of the emotional connection to each other.)
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