More than a decade ago, Steven Hosking was just another struggling actor in New York, chasing down a dream. Only his dream turned into a nightmare when chronic anxiety and fear took hold of him, virtually ending his career before it began.
For help, Hosking turned to the famed Kripalu Center in western Massachusetts, where he spent a year studying karma yoga. “At Kripalu, I realized that I went into acting not to become famous, but because I found the act of creative expression healing, joyous and fun,” recalls the Connecticut native. “It was a revelation.”
Today, Hosking is a therapeutic teaching artist who combines different creative modalities, like art, music and dance, to foster personal empowerment and community development. He also is a Level 1 (Improviser) in Music for People (MfP)’s Musicianship and Leadership Program.
“I like MfP because anyone can express their creative spirit without fear of emotional trauma or harsh judgment,” says Hosking, who earned a master’s degree in expressive therapies from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Everyone has something to contribute, regardless of their skill or experience.”
MfP recently caught up Hosking to talk about the arts as a tool for self-discovery and self-expression.
What is meant by “therapeutic teaching artist”?
I offer and curate a safe, nurturing space outside the clinical and non-clinical binary setting, where therapeutic experiences can be accessed by anyone. By educating people about their inherent creative skills and engaging them in the expressive arts, I encourage and empower playful, healing explorations of the self as well as potent relational dynamics. These explorations can take the form of themed classes, professional development workshops, private sessions with children or adults, and community events.
Everyone has something to contribute, regardless of their skill or experience.Steven Hosking
You describe your work as “intermodal.” How is this approach different from that of traditional art or music therapy?
I take an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to creativity that includes all the expressive languages—the visual arts, movement, music, drama, writing, the culinary arts and so on. I explore these languages in specific sequences or combinations, or I intuitively focus on just one. For instance, someone might express their emotions in a visual arts piece. I might encourage them to compose a piece of music to go with it, followed by a poem or a dance piece.
Spoken word, while dynamic, can express only so much, especially in a traditional therapeutic setting. Adding modalities gives the individual or group more nuance and definition to their experience.
How did you get involved with Music for People?
I took a drum circle facilitation workshop with [MfP Program Director] Mary Knysh at the Expressive Therapies Summit in New York City about three years ago. I was enthralled by Mary’s playful teaching style and her presentation of MfP’s methodologies. Through that memorable and influential experience, I found my way here.
What has MfP taught you about yourself?
It has crystalized in me the importance of playfulness, kindness and wonder in the visual and performing arts as well as the clinical and educational worlds. Our professional training [in the arts] hinges so much on perfection and technical prowess that we rarely develop a heart-centered, non-judgmental approach to our creative imagination or tap into our improvisational impulses. MfP has inspired me to bring a more improvisational, play-based approach to my work and life, in general. This “return to child” and sense of wonder are desperately needed now, during a pandemic.
Do you still perform?
I love the thrill of performing, but it is the creative process and the practice of improvising—expressing emotion and imagination in relationship to others—that I am most empowered by and grateful for.
Author: Robert Enslin