Welcome to this inspiring interview with Krista Zeiter, a Teaching Artist at Rumriver Art Center and Art Therapist. For Krista, art has always been more than just a means of creating a final product. It has been a transformative avenue to process experiences and nurture her identify.
Q: Please share a little about yourself and your journey as an artist and art therapist:
Art making has always been a tool for self expression and self-care for me. Growing up, I didn’t find as much joy in producing a final end product, as I did in experimenting and finding my way as I go.
I found that art was a safe place for me to express difficult emotions that weren’t often safe to express outwardly or that I had a hard time understanding or sharing with others.
As I grew older and entered college, I felt unsure about what do to under the pressure of choosing a career. I knew I loved two things, art and helping people. Based on that information, I completed my undergrad with a major in Psychology and minor in studio art. I took time away from school for a while to figure out how those two skills could be useful to me. I tried doing the art festival market for a few years as a full-time artist but found the lifestyle to be difficult on my physical health. In my free time I volunteered for Free Arts Mn, helping mentor kids through art and creative expression. This experience opened me up to the world of healing arts and art therapy. I loved that experience so much that I decided to go back to school to complete my master’s at Adler Graduate School focusing on Adlerian Psychotherapy and Art Therapy.
I had the honor of providing art therapy to two large treatment centers, Hazelden Center for Youth, and The Emily Program focusing on treating chemical dependency, disordered eating, and relationship challenges through art. I established my private practice in 2017, helping individuals find healing through a variety of expressive and healing arts and art therapy. Today, I am a trauma informed, racial justice and community oriented, holistic, fat positive and poly/kink affirming space holder for creatives, neurodivergent, or LGBTQ+ humans.
Everything I create is informed by my love for creativity, ecology, psychology, and spirituality. I offer one-on-one therapy virtually or in-person. I offer oracle readings and guidance at We The Starborne shop in St. Paul, Mn. In the summer I offer art and nature sessions in Dayton, Mn along the Mississippi River. And I sell my original artwork at WildMother Goods in Zumbrota, Mn.
Q: How would you describe process arts?
Process arts is intuitive art making. It is allowing yourself to approach your creative work without any plans or thought of the final product. Instead, leading only with your emotion of the moment and the colors, shapes, symbols, and movements that match.
Process painting is making the experience of painting more important than the outcome. The goal of process painting is the creative act itself, without concern for talent, skill or accomplishment. Process painting allows you to transcend the rules and go beyond who you thought you were as an artist, taking you on a journey of inspiration, insight, growth and change. It is returning to the exhilaration of creating without the pressure to perform, produce or succeed. The goal is free expression. Process painting emphasizes the creative process rather than technique or expertise. No prior art experience is necessary.
Process painting offers an exceptional opportunity to inhabit the present moment and personal power that grows from being present in the moment. It’s an engaged spirituality — a practice of equanimity, presence, and learning to stay present in the face of whatever arises. The beauty of letting yourself be led rather than grasping for control or attempting to plan. The rewards that come from experiencing doubt and carrying on anyway.
One of the myths of art is that you must feel inspired, have endless ideas, or feel confident to create. But not-knowing allows innocence. Accepting imperfection yields compassion. Risking vulnerability opens the door to breakthrough and awe. This approach develops an awakened stance towards life that is centered yet expansive.
What occurs in the painting process is meditation in action — where the circumstances of your life (and art) are seen as potentials rather than problems.
Q: What drew you to process arts/art therapy?
I’ve never had much patience to follow a planned outcome all the way through in my artwork. I usually make a mistake, get distracted by an unexpected surprise, or just get carried away with my own ideas. I’d often get in trouble in class growing up because I wasn’t focused or following along with the desired outcome. Looking back, I can see that I was naturally drawn to the process approach but the standardized method of teaching art in classrooms didn’t value that skill. Luckily, I am a stubborn soul and kept pushing to do it my way. I found process arts through an art therapist mentor who was one of the first people who seemed to value my work and my way of using art to process my emotions. When she continued to support that side of me my creative energy just flooded out getting bigger and bigger with every bit of permission, she gave me to follow my instincts. I have never produced more artwork in my life than when I was working alongside someone who gave me the space and encouragement to create my own way.
I also loved this approach because it felt like an immediate connection to my own heart. When we create intuitively, we are being completely present with what is happening in our minds, hearts, hands, and art. Anything you create from that space will reflect something to you about yourself – and I LOVED being able to see and understand myself with my non-judgmental companion, art. It also helped ease my anxiety. Instead of sitting down and trying to be perfect and follow steps to an end product, I could take a deep breath and ask myself, “What material, or colors match how I feel right now? What materials are speaking to me in this moment?” and be present with myself. It is rare to find a space that is as fully stimulating to the mind and body, and self-reflective, as art.
Q: What are some elements you typically include in a process arts classes?
I teach two methods of process arts at Rumriver Art Center: Art Journaling and Process Painting.
Art journaling is an on-going series where you learn the practice of process art in a journal each day. I encourage using altered books as the journal base. These sessions are focused on self-care, community connection, and exploring a wide range of materials and prompts each week.
Process Painting is a day-long “mini retreat” style workshop where we meet from 9am-12pm, break for lunch, then return from 1pm-4pm. It is a day of being fully emersed in your painting and process. We use imagery cards to prompt reflective writing, and practice group sharing and witnessing. In these sessions we see the canvas as a mirror, every part of your process and creation are reflecting something back to you to gain deeper understanding about how and who you are.
I encourage non-judgmental play, exploration, mixing materials, making mistakes, trying again, learning as we go, no right way, and you totally know what you are doing even when it feels like you don’t. All classes are held with great care and ready to meet you where you are, mentally, emotionally, physically, and creatively.
Thank you Krista, for highlighting art’s self-discovery and therapeutic properties.
We are thrilled to announce that Krista’s Art Journaling course is returning, by popular demand! This course offers the ideal opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of process art and its transformative potential.
Create an Art Journal using books, mixed media, collage, and more. We will explore who we are, what makes us unique, and how to create with authenticity and freedom from perfection. We will experiment, and have a lot of fun finding ourselves in art. This class is for older kids, great for adults, great for the whole family!