Tamara Ryan Brody found her inner artist just by chance. After years as a military wife and mother, a “little reunion” with her cousin, who had just gone through SoulCollage® training, changed her life.
At its most basic level, SoulCollage® helps participants work through issues by finding images, usually in magazines. The images – which often are intended to express a theme – are arranged and glued to 5-by-8-inch cards. At the conclusion of a session, each person shows their cards and talks about what the images signify to them and asks for feedback from the other participants.
But for Brody, that’s just the beginning.
“It helps me get more clarity out of my life and who I am, where I’ve been, why I do some of the things I do, why I still struggle. It’s taught me to release some of that and helped me expand into my own potential. I feel that because of that, I’ve really grown as an individual. I’ve been more grounded, I’ve been more content in my inner world as well as my relationships. It’s added a quality to my living that I could have never guessed would have happened.”
She hadn’t explored her creative desires beyond encouraging her daughter to take art classes and living vicariously through her artistic friends. Brody has a master’s in communication and is an avid yoga practitioner.
Seeing her cousin’s SoulCollage® cards lit her creative fire. “There was such an impact, not just visually but emotionally, when I saw her work. And so I went home and I think I created 100 cards in the first month. I was hooked.”
Brody started exploring the process in November 2007, then went through facilitator training with founder Seena Frost in September 2008. The training includes the reminder that SoulCollage® facilitators are not therapists.
She’s had about 60 hours of online training since then and participates in online classes that include teleconferencing, so she and other facilitators can receive and give feedback on their own cards.
However, a lot of her training has been on the job, through the hundreds of people who have attended the classes and open studios she hosts in her home.
“Everybody seems to respond. It seems as though it gives them a way they don’t have access to otherwise. I see people being amazed at what comes out. Not knowing that this is where it’s going to take them and that’s part of the beauty of art in general and this process in particular.”
Most of the participants are women, but the SoulCollage® organization is reaching out to men through the approximately 1,000 facilitators around the world.
“It seems that men are waking up to these kinds of processes and they are starting to see the value of it. I’ve seen men do this type of process and I’m amazed at what they come up with. And that’s part of the reason I do this work, it’s not just seeing what it’s done for other people, it’s seeing how amazing the human creative force is in men and women and how it’s magic.”
Brody’s upcoming retreat, “Claiming the Gifts of Fall,” will be for women only, however. The Oct. 8 retreat will combine art, movement, poetry and journaling, all following the theme of “release, renew and receive.” It costs $30 for the morning session, $30 for the afternoon, or $50 for the entire day.
Also, she will teach a SoulCollage® class at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs. The class, scheduled for the evening of Sept. 15, costs $35 and includes all supplies, instruction and snacks. People of all ages, experience levels and spiritual practices are welcome.
See Brody’s website for more information on all her offerings.
SoulCollage® has been a “gateway” to other types of art for her – she’s begun exploring mixed media and painting. But her main satisfaction comes from seeing her students blossom as they find their inner artist, just as she did.
“This is like going somewhere and not knowing this beautiful bud is going to open before your eyes.”