As Pablo Picasso once said – “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life”
I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a creative event at one of Australia’s most leading non-government Child Protection charities. From my perspective it was a small token of what we could do as an art company to give back in our small way to the community, but to the staff and children involved it was a highly anticipated event that became a focal point of conversation and excitement that took the sting out of the daily grind these vulnerable children experience.
On arrival I was blown away by the enthusiasm from the staff and the eagerness of the students. Their hunger for this art event was clear to see.
Whilst the kids were expressing themselves creatively, I had a chance to have mini conversations with them and the staff, gaining insight into what their daily lives are like and what it means to go into child protection services. Many of their stories were so dark it is difficult for me to grasp how they are still so full of light, eager to get involved and connect. The creative activities before them immediately breaking down mental barriers, increasing self-esteem and social awareness.
One story resonated with me about a teenage boy. His mother was in prison and his foster parents were really struggling to connect and engage with this boy. He was so angry and frustrated with life, his situation and would lash out at those trying to help him. I can honestly say that the 3hrs I spent with the group he was the standout performer, he had a smile on his face the entire session, helping and guiding the wider group. The staff were surprised with his change in mood and complete engagement into the activity.
I am no therapist, but in my humble research I have found many references to the power of Art Therapy, its ability to connect the mind to the physical and start a healing process by achieving new insights into oneself, improving interpersonal skills, and boosting self-esteem.
Art is an emotional release that does not require verbalizing your feelings. People can express complex emotions such as sadness or anger through art. The reduction in cortisol levels plummets in most cases when highly anxious and/or depressed people are actively creating.
Some studies I came across show that art or creative activities help people suffering from dementia by boosting cognitive function, enhancing communication and social interactions. These benefits are said to be immediately noticeable. Art’s ability to transcend verbal requirements provides a method to communicate and express oneself.
I find it truly amazing and inspiring to see how art in its many forms can transform even the most troubled or busiest of minds into calm serene and connected individuals, releasing them of their immediate and or long-term baggage, if just for a moment, allowing their true selves to emerge.
There are so many vulnerable people in our community and the work done by members of housing and community groups is truly inspirational. I am so grateful to have been able to help in this battle against domestic abuse, child vulnerability, homelessness in my own small way, providing momentary relief through art which most certainly washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.