Meet local artist Dan Friedlander

Art by Dan Friedlander

As the Small Resources = Big Possibilities Art Auction gets closer we are getting very, very excited about the local artists who have agreed to create a matchbox inspired piece of art.  Each artist receives a small bag with a matchbox and a few inspirational items. The only requirement for the final art piece is that it incorporate the matchbox somewhere, somehow. Small Resources = Big Possibilities was part of Sue Wallingford’s (NCASI coordinating faculty) initial vision for this project. The matchboxes were purchased with a $50 gift from her mother and with Sue’s dream to see the Naropa art therapy department engage with an international project. Currently we have 30 local artists committed to creating an art piece! The Art Auction is happening on March 17, 7:30 PM at the Oddfellows Lodge (above the Army Navy Store on Pearl St). Stay tuned for information on how to buy tickets!

We are so excited and honored to have local artist Dan Friedlander creating a matchbox inspired piece of art for our Small Resources = Big Possibilities art auction!

Check out his website:

Here’s his artist bio:

For me, creation is the currency of life.  I take clay and transform it into living forms.  Each form is a unity of my conscious and unconscious.  Each form is a unique, organic expression of life’s possibilities.

To maintain unity I use only my fingers to sculpt each form.  To maintain unity with nature I use a solar oven to convert the fluid  clay to a solid expression.

The Privileged Helper

By Meg Hamilton, Art Therapy Student

photograph by Meg Hamilton from Didi: Sister, A Conversation on Nepali Womanhood

The NCAS-I team has been working with enthusiasm and purpose to ask local artists and art therapists to participate in the Small Resource=Big Possibilities Art Auction Gala. Again and again we are finding this project to be meaningful to everyone we talk to. We have endless inspirational stories and synchronistic moments.

While these stories have fueled our success and motivated us to strive to seed the project for the next three years we have not forgotten the underlying purpose we began the project with: to contribute to and grow from the collaboration of cross-cultural art therapy research and training.

Recently in a discussion about the project a student was asked, “Why not just raise $20,000 and send it to Cambodia directly?”

We thought this was an important question. One that deserved our thoughtful attention and response. It is a complex issue and sorting out the various degrees of globalization, privilege, and economics is a bit daunting.

However it is in considering such a question that we are able to examine our individual intentions for participating in the trip, to recognize our assumptions, and to begin noting the tangible learning that is taking place.

Here’s our answer to that question: One of our primary reasons for investing in a global partnership and social justice issue is that increasingly we are become aware of what has often proved to be the detrimental affects of globalization on developing countries. Often the influx of Western culture and ideals leaves these cultures permanently altered and dependent on developed nations for support. In considering participating in a globalized world we feel one of the most appropriate ways to collaborate is to share skills that offer empowerment rather than dependence. These things don’t run out; money does.

This brings me to my next point- the role of a “privileged helper.” It is a slippery slope to enter an unfamiliar culture with the intentions of offering help. Power hierarchies form rapidly- and are inherently in place when privilege plays a role. And privilege plays a big, big role. Simultaneously art therapy is field that is categorized as a helping profession. So how do we navigate the privileged idea of help while also acknowledging this is in fact what we would like to do?

We are dedicated to the idea of mutual helping; as we strive to offer skills and training that may benefit Transitions we are also receiving immense help ourselves. This help comes in the form of invaluable education about the culture, the issue of sex trafficking, and relational growth. The collaboration we hope to engage in is rooted in the value of community and the profound impact of being seen and learning to see in an unfamiliar environment. This is the core of why we want to go on this trip. In participating relationally the benefit of a global partnership has the potential to be magnified well beyond the limits of dollars and cents.

This learning happened for me when I travelled to Nepal in 2007 to examine sex trafficking there. I worked with women living in a safe house, some of whom had been trafficked. On my last night in Nepal I sat with the women who lived there and we shared our stories. One woman told of how she had been sold by her husband at the age of 14. She lived in a brothel in Mumbai for 9 years before escaping. I shared my story after each of the women had a chance to tell theirs. Abuse played a significant role in my life and it was important to me to share this. When I finished telling my story, the woman who had been trafficked looked at another woman and said, “Her story and my story are the same.” I am still amazed by the profound feeling of being seen and of sharing healing that I experienced in that moment.

It is with these experiences in mind that I am motivated to continue this work. In building relationships and teaching skills those of us traveling to Cambodia will constantly be challenged to check the role of privilege in our intentions and actions. The mutual learning we hope to engage with by doing this is what motivates us to go rather than to send money.

I say all of this and simultaneously acknowledge the fact that it takes to run an NGO as large and successful as Transitions. We hope that our fundraising allows us the opportunity to contribute to their financial success as well. But at the end of the day it is our desire to learn, to see, and to work with the suffering of the world that inspires us to move forward. And we are honored to have the opportunity to do this with Transitions.

Vagina Monologues selects NCAS-I as Beneficiary of Performance Proceeds!

Every year Naropa University puts on a presentation of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. Each year they select a local organization or non-profit to donate the proceeds of the performance to.


We are so excited and honored to be a beneficiary of their wonderful work.

Peformances are February 13 and 14 at 8PM. The show will be in the Performing Arts Center at Naropa’s main campus (2130 Arapahoe Ave). $15 suggested donation for tickets.

If you haven’t seen the Vagina Monologues, here’s a delightful preview…

Restoring the Sacred Feminine

Can the “sacred feminine” be restored when she has been sold, imprisoned, bound,
drugged, beaten to submission, starved, and raped over and over again with out
any words of love or praise? Can a girl who has been thrown away, abandoned in
the worst of all possible ways ever be able to trust the loving gaze of another? Can
her body ever receive a warm embrace and gentle touch meant to soothe instead of
harm? Can a girl taught she is nothing other than a vessel to satisfy the desires of
men ever believe that that same body can hold a growing child, birth a new life and
sustain her with the sweet milk of her very own breast? Or has her body been so
ravaged by disease, mutilations, and botched abortions that the hope of ever having
her own child is nonexistent?

Abandonment and abuse of this kind is the most horrendous and inhuman act of all,
stripping the girl from the very essence of her inherent sacred being, her birthright.
Leaving behind an empty hopeless shell, a body that can’t even feel or experience
life’s real pleasures, a heart that has closed shut to love and trust, because that is the
only way she knows how to survive.

During the making of this project many people have asked me, “what will you be
doing in Cambodia with these girls.” The standard answer to this question is easy
to express. “We will be working with both the Transition’s clinical and training
staff to share art therapy skills to aid toward the healing of trauma and also to bring
awareness to the wide spread devastation that sex trafficking is leaving in it’s wake.

We have specific interventions that we will share with the staff and the girls in
order to empower them through the language of art. We will hopefully be able
to offer useful skills that will not only allow the girls to express the unspeakable
through imagery but also give them art skills that will instill a sense of pride and
accomplishment in making something beautiful and praiseworthy with their hands.

But really, I think our mission is to look for the lost connection to the sacred
feminine that I imagine we will see in the eyes of these girls. To do what we can do,
and have been trained to do as transpersonal therapists. And that is to just sit with,
hold the pain, offer a truly compassionate gaze letting them know we see the light in
them and trust it can burn strong again, ignited by the creative feminine, even if just
for a moment. In these moments we find mutual healing and deepened compassion, remembering we have all walked powerfully unique paths towards hope and wholeness.

– Sue Wallingford, NCAS-I Faculty Leader

Save the Date!

NCAS-I is hosting it’s next fundraiser!!

The Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Gala will feature numerous local artists from both the fine arts and art therapy community. Bruce Campbell, Dan Friedlander, Sue Hammond West, and Marlow Brooks are just a few of the local artists who will be donating a matchbox-art inspired piece to be auctioned. Local art therapists, representatives from ATACO (Art Therapy Association of Colorado), and internationally recognized art therapist Pat Allen are just a few of the art therapists donating a piece.

The event will take place at the Odd Fellows Lodge on Pearl St in Boulder, CO. Stay tuned for information about how to purchase tickets.

We will be highlighting one contributing artist each week on our blog. We hope you enjoy seeing their work and getting to know their stories.

January declared Human Trafficking Prevention Month

President Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. While awareness of human trafficking is increasing there is still much work to be done to fight its occurrence. Polaris Project reports more than 12 million individuals are being exploited through sex and labor trafficking throughout the world. Through the tireless efforts of organizations like Transitions those who are affected by trafficking are finding sources of support. It is our hope that through developing a partnership with Transitions we are contributing to the fight against trafficking.

“The steadfast defense of human rights is an essential part of our national identity, and as long as individuals suffer the violence of slavery and human trafficking, we must continue the fight.” – President Obama

See more from on Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Please take some time this month to join the fight. Check out our resources page for more information on trafficking, and consider donating to our efforts or to the work Transitions is doing in Cambodia.