Expressive Arts Carnival No. 10: Safety

| By Paul | | Comments (8)

Welcome to the April 2011 edition of the Expressive Arts Carnival. This month's theme, see announcement, was to "create an image representing your relationship with safety."

It is my policy to not comment on art in the Carnival itself. This is why we have the words of the artists themselves, if they choose, talking about their entries. But certainly if discussions ensue in the comments, I am happy to talk about the art in any way that is appropriate and encourage others to do so.

Here are the entries in the order received. Only if there is a blog or a post to accompany the entry, the artist's name will have a link to it.

Entry 1: Castorgirl

Castorgirl wrote: "I have a tenuous relationship with safety - it feels like some out of reach ideal that only happens to good people.  This is why my image is more menacing than optimistic.  I struggle to understand what safety means, and that I could be deserving of it."

Entry 2: Kerro

Kerro wrote: "When I took this photo I was deeply afraid of the dark and particularly the city at night. The dark, the people, the crowds, the noises, the lights... it all triggered me. And yet I was drawn to it as well, longing to walk the streets taking photos rather than taking them from the safety of a hotel room high in the sky. A few months after this photo was taken I was walking in town one night when I realised I wasn't afraid any more. Sure, the people were still there, the crowds, the noises... it was all the same, but I felt safe. Safer than I had ever felt before. I've represented this healing aspect with the splash of colour. I still get freaked by the dark sometimes. City crowds and noises are still an easy trigger, but I'm hoping my splash of colour will spread. The splash - and the contrast with the black and white - also represents the tenuous grip that I and many survivors have with safety. Sometimes we feel safe, and others we don't - even in the same situations. Sometimes we turn to the darkness to create safety in ways that aren't safe at all, but that we can at least control."

Entry 3: Shen

Shen wrote: "Recently, I've been protecting an eight-year-old part of me. Actually this has been going on for months, but so certain was I that I needed to keep protecting the eight-year-old, I haven't written about it on my blog and I couldn't tell C (my therapist). Two nights ago, with great anxiety, I finally told C what was going on... and soon afterwards I realized that the eight-year-old didn't need my protection at all.  That's what this image is about. I first started it before I told C, and at that time I had the wall all the way around the figure in the middle. When I finished it tonight, I realized the wall didn't need to be quite so restraining. Maybe, in time, I will be able to let all the parts of me be free to be who they are, without so much control."

Entry 4: Sanity is Knocking

Sanity wrote: "The first thing I thought of was my response to a discussion my therapist and I were having about opening up and being more vulnerable. I said I could do it if he put me in a cardboard box! I was half serious as being contained like that would feel more safe than having someone constantly reading every body movement. I think I could be a lot more open if I could hide."

Entry 5: Tai

Tai wrote: "This is about choices and sometimes about inevitability, both choices are hard and both come with emotional consequences for me. You would think that the woman on the right would look happy because she represents choosing not to self-harm , but I have to be honest and acknowledge that there's a unique kind of pain from not giving in too."

Entry 6: Shades of Ivory

Ivory wrote: "T Water. Slow, lazy water. That is what makes me feel safe. I'm drawn to water and the sound of water, but not just any water. Not the surf, or a rushing river, but slow water, lapping at small pebbles along the shore, or the silent sound of waveless water. Also, as in this picture, there are few colors, which is soothing to me because I'm often overwhelmed with the emotion of too much color and/or too much sound. Guess what live wallpaper is on my Thunderbolt?"

Entry 7: Bay

Bay titled this piece "The Price of Safety" and wrote: "Throughout our life finding safety has been a matter of building a wall around us, when we've tried to let people in we seem to choose the wrong ones, so best build a good, strong wall. Right now we feel safe in our little world, but also very lonely. The challenge now is to learn how to open that little door and let others in while somehow maintaining that feeling of safety."

Entry 8: thequietone

thequietone wrote: "What safety means to me: The word safety brings on sadness to me.  It is a fragile state that is so easily broken if put in the wrong hands.  For many years I couldn't comprehend what the word "safe" meant.  Safe for me was to keep everything inside, put up huge walls and not let anyone in.  It was a matter of time before that stopped working of course and when that happened I was on a new quest to learn all about this elusive word."

Entry 9: Leslie

Leslie wrote: "A child's home should be a protection and a shelter from the storms of life, much like an umbrella protects and shelters us from storms.  For us survivors, too often our homes were like the umbrella in this picture...broken not providing any protection at all.  Thus safety is a concept that is hard for me to trust in. My son helped me to look at this in a new was."

Entry 10: wantstorun

wantstorun wrote: "The text says: 'Safety is the state of being 'safe,' the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, emotional, financial, political, occupational, phychological, or other types of consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be defined to be the control of recognized hazards to achieve an acceptable level of risk.  This can take the form of being protected from an event that causes loss; can include protection of people or possessions.'  I used 'magic paper' for this project, paper that is black on the surface, until parts are scratched away to reveal the rainbow of colors underneath.  It is symbolic of my system, because while I see the beauty of my system, it is much safer for us that it remains hidden/unseen.  I cut the paper into the shape of my vehicle, which is one of my safe places in the 3-D world."

Entry 11: OneSurvivor; see Blog Post 1, Blog Post 2, and Blog Post 3

OneSurvivor wrote: "It was really difficult for me to get into things this month. The theme was ironic... safety. It was due on my birthday which is the anniversary of my sister's death, which was likely cult related. When things finally started to come together for me on this, I ended up with three pieces. Each one expresses something a bit different about safety, while sharing a similar theme at the same time. Namely, that my safety is in Yahweh. Although I don't really have a 'favorite' or think that one expresses safety better than another, it is the third one that speaks to me the most. I feel as if it has the strongest message. Or perhaps it is because it speaks the most of healing. I don't know."

Entry 12: Paul

Paul wrote: "This is a picture of my bedroom now. The chair was one of a pair that my Nana and Papa sat in every night in their own bedroom while watching television together. It is my safe chair. In the background are three paintings my Papa made. It is probably the safest spot on the planet."

Entry 13: ClinicallyClueless

Safety...what a vast topic, but safety within is difficult to achieve when one has been abused.

My sense of safety was broken
By the hands that were supposed to teach me to be open

To others and myself I built numerous walls and defenses
Of the real me only I let other and I see glimpses

The world to me all seems threatening and a place to fear
Everything begins to seem unclear

So many parts of me escaping reality
Escaping into myself I vow to be

I will go underground where no one will find me
The real me inside aching for someone to see

They have seen too much I feel threatened
Push away as I tell myself to always approach with caution

I don't really want to know who I am
As I am ashamed and I don't give a damn

A world of lies and distorted truth I learned to live
Now, I need to learn to live in reality and not be so passive

For I am not small and childlike compared to the world
I am just as large and want to be seen and heard

However, my first instinct is to hide
For my safety lays in deep inside

No one, not even me will ever see
My plea to just be

A false sense of safety is what I need to take down
At times, this makes me feel like I'm headed for a breakdown

Safety always comes from a sense of self and worth
And not from things and others even the one who gave you birth

Safety it not around me
For it is something within

Safety does not equal control
Although I keep trying to make it so

Control is an illusion and it doesn't work
It never makes you safe in reality

ClinicallyClueless wrote: "Ironically, safety is an issue that I have actually been talking about in therapy and how my defenses keep others out and even myself from facing reality. However, it keeps both 'good' and 'bad' out of reach. I have difficulty with relationships, letting others near, forming attachments, keep living in my world or should and must, live in a world of self hatred and self judgment. All it was once a way to cope now it is problematic as an adult. In keeping reality and these feelings at bay, I also have difficulty feeling love, happiness, accepting reality and moving on to just being able to be me."

That's all folks! Thanks to all those who contributed, especially those of you who are new. Thanks for taking a chance! If you think this Carnival is worthwhile, then let others know about it and we can continue to increase the contributors for future months.

The Expressive Arts Carnival was founded to to bring survivors together through expressive arts activities. On the Carnival's home page you can find links to all activity announcements and Carnival publications. Activities are posted on the first of every month and submissions are open for approximately 3 weeks. Please consider emailing to to be added to our anonymous mailing list for announcements and occasional discussions.


Ivory said:

I loved these. This is the first time I've realized that safety is so diverse that its meaning is different to everyone. I looked at each one of these entries several times and each time, each one meant something new to me.

wantstorun said:

What a wonderful selection of interpretations and variations on what safety means to folks. I see a lot of honesty and fear in the submissions; yet I also see hope for healing or growth.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to share, for taking the risk in sharing-particularly those new to the carnival. You all really do add a different dimension to my journey.


Paul Author Profile Page said:

I'm in awe of the current month and what everyone did. I think the contributions were more varied this month than usual. Which tells me that the word safety is really a loaded word and has so many different meanings not only to us as different individuals but different meanings at different times even to ourselves.

Kylie said:

These are so amazing, thank you for sharing what safety means for each of you. Safety is such a huge thing and so difficult to achieve.

Im really disappointed that I was unable to participate in this carnival, I hope to be able to do an entry for the next one.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Kylie:

Kylie. There will be plenty more!

OneSurvivor said:

Wow! I agree that there seem to be so many ways to look at safety. It seems like each carnival just gets better and better as we share our perceptions with one another.

Great job on these! Thank you, everyone, for sharing!

Bay said:

We really enjoyed taking part in our first carnival, got a lot out of producing our own piece and love seeing other people's interpretations. It's wonderful the way they're all so different, yet we find them all very meaningful. Love seeing the variety of mediums too.

castorgirl said:

I found this activity really challenging, to the point where I didn't think I was going to be able to submit anything. When a friend pointed out that because it was so difficult, that was why I should do it, then I made a real effort. Just the idea of thinking about safety, felt scary and unsafe. I'm glad I submitted something, even if I feel a small resistance and discomfort from seeing my entry here.

When I look at the other entries, I see so much to identify with... Sanity is Knocking's box keeps drawing me back to it, as does the sadness in thequietone's entry. They're all amazing, and show how differently we all envision the same concept. Whether that be because of our different stages of healing, I'm not sure; but it's interesting to see them gathered together like this.

Thank you all for sharing your work with us.

Take care,

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on April 30, 2011 9:48 PM.

The Gift of Nana and Papa was the previous entry in this blog.

Expressive Arts Carnival Activity No. 11 is the next entry in this blog.

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