Benazir S

“Altered Book, Altered Reality”

While interning at a children’s day treatment program in the midst of a pandemic, I witnessed the cyclical effects of systemic trauma that impact clients and clinicians. Despite the 21st century’s renewed obsession with self-care, high rates of clinician burnout and vicarious trauma are ever-present.

As an emerging art therapist, I recognized the importance of proactively preparing myself for the challenges ahead. I embarked on an altered book-making journey to symbolically re-author my story. Manipulating pages with the option to tear out unsatisfying work was liberating. It allowed me to create outside of the grip of perfectionism and to cultivate a ritual of spontaneous and structured art-making free from personal judgement and expectation.

Using the lens of Plato’s three-part Allegory of the Cave, and when viewed in order, the images describe my personal journey facing, contextualizing, and learning to free myself from dominant cultural narratives that have limited my self-efficacy and consequently, meaningful self-care practices. The resulting body of work consists of select images that explore my relationship with white supremacy culture, the risks of trauma-care, and self-care.