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Response Art in Art Therapy: Responding to Children’s artworks

In July 2023, Tekka Place exhibited a collection of artworks titled “Nurturing Our Inner Voices for Loving Families to Thrive,” a collaboration between Tekka Place and the Millet Group. The artworks showcased were created by young artists. As part of our monthly session, BOHS participants were invited to view and reflect on the displayed works, followed by creating their own pieces on mini canvases and postcard-sized watercolor paper. There are no strict rules for creating response art; the core idea is to respond to any symbols, images, or colors that resonate with you. While creating, set an intention on the art-making process focusing on mental well-being. During the process, stay open and observe any feelings or insights that emerge. Once finished, take a moment to reflect on your creation.

The participants produced a fascinating array of artworks in response to the young artists’ pieces. They were invited to respond to the artworks and the exhibition’s theme, “Nurturing Our Inner Voices.” It was inspiring to witness them embrace a childlike approach to art-making, reflect on and reconnect with their long-forgotten childhoods, and ultimately share meaningful insights about their creations within a two-hour timeframe. Interestingly, similar sentiments seemed to emerge as participants shared their insights:

Collective artworks from BOHS Participants

The open studio session beautifully demonstrated the power of response art. It fosters conversation within a shared space, prompting participants to respond aesthetically to the surrounding artworks.

  1. Long-forgotten carefree attitudes towards art-making were rejuvenated through creating, reflecting, and sharing with each other.
  2. The experience revealed a ripple effect on their creativity, reminding participants that they have the freedom and permission to be playful during the artistic process.
  3. Adulthood can strip away childlike innocence and the naivete that allows us to fully embrace life’s fun. Juggling adult responsibilities often leaves this joy neglected.

Engaging with Breathe Open Heart Studio (BOHS) participants sparked the joy of introducing response art making, a new method or technique, to the group. This allowed them to explore and rediscover their own beautiful experiences.

Response art, a practice often used spontaneously in therapy in response to presented materials, can be extended to public spaces. By introducing response art to public groups within a community exhibition space, we encourage conversation and foster synergy within the space.

Response art is also a key tool for practicing art therapists. It allows them to address material arising from their therapy work, encompassing their feelings, thoughts, and experiences related to clients, the work itself, or themselves. This method serves various purposes: containing difficult emotions, exploring personal and professional experiences, and facilitating introspective reflection through the artistic process. Overall, response art plays a significant role in art therapy practice and research.

We are thrilled to continue creating opportunities for you to engage in the therapeutic art-making process. We provide a platform and space for exploration. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to explore curating your own therapeutic art-making groups or organize team-building activities with colleagues or loved ones.


Breathe Open Heart Studio (BOHS) is a monthly open studio session founded by myself (Jue Ann), Jeanette Chan, and Kok Hoe. We are a collective advocating for the use of art for wellness to support adults and families. Since July 2021, we’ve held these open studio sessions both physically and virtually throughout various pandemic phases. Typically, we have around 10 participants per session, with individuals from diverse backgrounds. We curate the sessions specifically to provide a safe space for working adults and healthcare professionals to utilize art for their mental and emotional well-being. We are currently on hiatus to recharge and explore exciting plans for the future.



Nash, G. (2020) Response art in art therapy practice and research with a focus on reflect piece imagery, International Journal of Art Therapy, 25(1), 39-48, DOI: 10.1080/17454832.2019.1697307

Fish, B. J.  (2012) Response Art: The Art of the Art Therapist, Art Therapy, 29(3), 138-143, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2012.701594


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Each month we aim to bring you 2 posts that we hope will help you navigate through the challenges of life with humility, humour and compassion for yourself and those around you. While we aim to inform and provide information, these posts are not meant to be prescriptive nor a stand-in for therapy. If you are struggling or are in need of support, please contact us directly, or your therapeutic provider or reach out to any of the following resources.

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Remember, with any practice, take one small step at a time, be gentle with yourself and practice regularly.

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