The House of Dream Memory

This post is dedicated to the memory of Elaine Rapp, who died on June 15, 2019.

Taking the paper off the straw, I would just pull and krinkle it and then remove it. Some people are more dedicated and methodical even when unrapping straws. I was in a rush to try out the inks. It was a huge piece of paper and we had partnered up. We poured on the thick black ink and started blowing on it with our straws. If you blow short and hard, you get strands of ink, spider web-like around the blob of ink. If you blow longer and less fiercely while moving the straw over the ink, it looks like the waves of a lake moving out.

That was in Elaine Rapp’s “Materials” class. I only had her for one class but it was a magical experience. Her approach was hands on and encouraging creativity and exploring through using the materials ourselves, like a kind of lab for art therapy. She was kind and very approachable and encouraging/validating. I still have the final project I did with hair from my dog on the cover about home and body, inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ drawing, “Femme Maison”.

Another memorable aspect of the class was the use of “I am”, when talking about our art work. You become the art work and speak as it, a technique of play therapy, art therapy and Gestalt therapy. Elaine was a Gestalt therapist as well as Art Therapist and it informed her teaching. I see the inside of the book with the title, “I am Your House of Dream Memory”, that I turned the book into a live creature as well as a house. She was definitely comfortable being in the metaphor, something that drew me to her teachings.

This is the  cover of the book with my dog’s hair glued on top of the white cover in a blob in the center. I added the yarn to the wire on the right side. I will post more of the book in another post. It was done in December of 1997. The featured image at the top of this post is a cropped page from my book.

“Free Play”, assigned reading in Elaine’s class, is one of the few “textbooks” that I have returned to numerous times over the years. It’s written by a musician scientist, not an art therapist, and definitely influenced my making this book as a final project. I wish I could remember the assignment. Above and below are pages from the book.


I am including Elaine’s comments and grading of the book because back then we didn’t even email professors. If it were now, I would have photos of class work and of her. All I have is in the comments she wrote here. I include the grade because I don’t remember getting an “A” with a double plus from anyone else. I definitely got disappointing grades in grad school at times, as it was very different from high school and college. You can also see the beautiful stationary she used to write her comments on it. You can also see her sensitivity and validating and encouragement, which is often rare from professors. I can say she really loved teaching and valued and cared about her students in a very warm, sweet and authentic way. She had a full life of creativity and died at 91. It feels happy to celebrate a teacher who touched me deeply and was part of my path on the art therapy career road that kept me in touch with my passion for the work…



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