The SPICES Art Framework: A Practitioner Tool for Deepening Understandings of Cultural and Spiritual Wellbeing

By Karin Mackay.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: January 20, 2016 $US5.00

The term wellbeing is commonly used to describe a person’s mental, physical, emotional, and affective states; however, conceptions of wellbeing predominantly neglect how cultural and spiritual aspects of an individual or community may be implicated in wellbeing. In this study, I explore the concepts of cultural and spiritual wellbeing through an examination of how a women’s community group used creative processes to make their stories and artwork for The 2009 Women’s Room Ancestral Connections Exhibition. I gathered data on women’s creative process through Arts Based Research and A/r/tographic methodologies, as this allowed me to combine direct experience of art making with my researcher and teacher roles to analyse the cultural and spiritual significance of women’s stories and art. The research led to my development of a new arts analysis tool called the SPICES framework as a way to explain, analyse, and practice the cultural and spiritual intent of stories and artworks. The study found that women primarily used three approaches to making their art being 1) Spiritual approach, 2) Intuitive Channelled approach, and 3) Expressive Symbolic approach (SPICES framework). My research found that Women were empowered by their creative agency to question dominant cultural conceptions of societal roles, express their cultural perspectives, as well as to cope with the challenges of everyday life. Making art using a SPICES approach enabled an individual creative agency which could also become a communicative action strategy for the expression of cultural and spiritual values within community. Implications for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers suggest the need to develop more sophisticated understandings of the relationship between Cultural Wellbeing and art making, particularly for marginalised communities, as this will shed light on how cultural beliefs and practices influence health and wellbeing, and better inform understandings of how cultural and spiritual aspects of personhood can manifest within community.

Keywords: Wellbeing, Women, Creative and Expressive Therapies, Art Therapy, Community Arts

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 11, Issue 1, March, 2016, pp.15-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: January 20, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 906.153KB)).

Dr. Karin Mackay

Lecturer, School of Education, Member of institute of Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Kingswood Campus, Sydney, NSW, Australia