Prescription: Art

wednesday afternoon art class at new moon gallery

I have had this tendency to shuffle art and creative time into the corner. Even as I recognize how much art fills me up, it still sometimes sinks to the end of the list. Maybe it is the gremlins that say how it is more important to do the “work” work things first, or maybe it is the perspective that because art feels so good, it must be self-indulgent.

But this I know: expression through art feels great. I am personally grateful for the research of Brene Brown which says that if we want to make meaning, we need to make art.  Popular opinion and medical research is finally showing up to speak about the benefits of the arts on mental health, too.

Thinking about art and Canadian Mental Health Week, my mind automatically went to my art teacher, Linda Lovisa, and not only the creativity that she cultivates, but also the community, connection and kindness that is fostered in her studio. Regarding creativity, Linda is clear, “Everyone has it, it is just a matter of exploring it…And it doesn’t matter what age you are.”

Linda’s classes are a big part of my feeling of connectedness to my new community and connection is imperative when it comes to promoting positive mental health. It goes beyond promotion to clear impact when Linda sees students who have reclusive tendencies use her studio as a testing ground for social interaction or bi-polar students who reap the benefits of learning to express themselves creatively in the positive, open environment she creates. Art changes her students, and Linda shares that she sees huge confidence boosts and perspective shifts:
[Students are] proud of themselves and their accomplishments…they have this confidence that they didn’t have when they started. They start to see the world differently, and notice things that they didn’t before: shapes of clouds, shapes of flowers, the light cast and how the shadows look, which is always something that they took for granted. They are quite joyful when they see it and it is the first thing that they talk about when they come into the class. How the clouds looked! That sunset last night! They really learn to see things differently.

For the sake of continuing to see the world differently, we need to make space in our lives for art. For connection, meaning and contribution, we need to create.

And for the love of fun and colour and joy and to celebrate Canadian Mental Health Week, take some time to get your art on this weekend.

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