What Does Translation Mean to Art, Creativity and the Therapeutic Process?



by Aaron Beatty

In translation, there is a source that is changed or clarified to create something that communicates information in a way we can better understand. What happens in the space between the source and what is created was the topic of much discussion during the annual Creativity Seminar at Riggs on August 1-2, 2014. 

To open the seminar on Friday evening, the Enchantment Theatre Company performed Mother Goose, using masks, props, music and movement to create a fantastic realm of fable and fairy tale, translating the music of Ravel into an emotional and riveting piece of theatre. 

Creativity Seminar at Riggs on August 1-2, 2014

Saturday morning, seminar attendees convened and were welcomed by seminar co-directors, Jane G. Tillman, PhD, and Ellen Handler Spitz, PhD. Dr. Spitz spoke of the seminar’s theme this year, Translation, and of the varying aims of translation from art to science to therapy and remarked that this seminar was designed as a forum to discuss those aims as well as to consider translation as a “cure for the ineffable,” and a “therapeutic act, not a tool.” 

Over the course of the day, attendees heard from photographer Pradip Malde, conductor Sara Jobin, psychoanalyst Phillip Blumberg and Enchantment Theatre Company members Landis Smith and Jennifer Blatchley Smith. Each professional took us on a tour of their work and provided an in-depth analysis of the role translation plays in each of their respective specialties. Pradip spoke of what is translated in the space between the subject and object, Sara talked about using movement to translate to the orchestra what she wants to hear, Phillip examined how experience is translated in the space between the therapist and patient, while Landis and Jennifer explored the translation of familiar tales into live theatre. 

Toward the end of the day there were small group discussions led by the presenters and then a wrap-up plenary session to close out the seminar. While the goals of each presenter in their respective professions may be quite different, the process and the intention is often very similar. When we come together at seminars such as this one, it is an opportunity to learn and apply new ways of thinking across specialties that can be translated into a deeper understanding of our own work. 

For more information on the presenters: