Thrive Art Therapy Workshops were an experimental, test run of teaching art as therapy to members of the community. Our goals were to create a space for community engagement together, to support one another during the process, to learn how to use art as self-care in order to heal oneself, and to practice trust and collaboration together as a community. My personal goals for the workshop were to: engage as a facilitator during the learning process, create a flexible curriculum based on changing needs, teach my participants four self-care based productive creative habits, and expose them to a variety of options, mediums and art exercises.
Providing options for self care to people who suffer a higher rate of exhaustion through their daily career practice was our first collective goal. In order to do this, it required weekly commitment from the participants, both to show up for the workshop and to engage in the exercises on their own time. The entire first month of the project was based in laying the foundation for being able to use art practice as healing and self care, while the next five months were based in experimental techniques, methods, mediums and artistic options for self expression. Six out of six participants, six months later, are still using their sketchbooks two to three times a month. Five out of six participants are journaling three to four times a week. Six out of six participants are painting biweekly, or when they need therapeutic support.
Engaging in habitual artistic and creative practices for the participants was our second goal. The four foundational methods were: draw, write, paint, and move everyday. Each component was structured to take up fifteen minutes of the participants day, resulting in an hour a day of creative, connected and habitual artistic practice. Our goals were for the community members to repeat this routine three times a week, as busy schedules allowed. 5 out of 6 participants completed the routine five times a week of their own accord. Five out of six participants are using these methods weekly to continue to grow their artistic skill set. Six out of six participants show a marked increase in their object rendering skills, their color theory knowledge, and their overall artistic skill and growth has increased.
Engaged community support through interaction between members, facilitators, practice, and space. During the duration of the six-month project, dialogue and support among members were encouraged both during the three-hour weekly workshops and outside of the community space. Each participant had a different response to the project outcome. All participants agreed that they felt supported by one another during the project. Participants continue to interact on a bi-weekly basis with one another by their own outreach. Facilitator continues to interact with individual participants on a bi-weekly basis as well. Participants have requested a return to Thrive Art Therapy Workshops on a monthly basis this winter. Each participant has also brought forward one to three community members to add to the collective should we return. The created network of emotional support, connection and interaction hav continued to offer support to community members.
Together we created space for one another. We worked as a team, participants and facilitator in order to engage artistically and emotionally as a community. The students reached out to one another, both to collaborate and to offer emotional connections. Those emotional links and network have continued beyond the duration of the project. Each participant has used different versions of continued art as therapy in their own self care routines post project. There have been no breaches of trust or fallouts. Participants have passed on their knowledge, suggestions, creative learning and artistic techniques to their partners and other community members post project. There is a request in for a return to the project for the winter of 2018. I posit that Thrive Art Therapy workshops achieved it’s three goals of creating space for community engagement, teaching community members how to use art for self care and healing, and practicing trusting one another for creative collaborations.
For myself as facilitator, I met my goals of teaching engagement during the workshop process, connecting the participants to the four core productive exercises of write, draw, paint and move and I exposed them to a large expanse of mediums, substrates, disciplines and techniques regarding artistic skills. I saw a marked improvement in their artist skills, their abilities to communicate complex emotions, and their willingness to experiment, play and use art to heal themselves.