Art Therapy at the Eskenazi Museum

Art Therapy at the Eskenazi Museum

Lauren Daugherty: Art therapy at it’s core
is a mental health profession that promotes health and well-being in individuals of all
ages with a variety of concerns. But it really is a lot more than that here
at the Eskenazi Museum of Art — it’s a way for people to understand better the world
around them and their relationships with others by immersing themselves in the creative process. So here our programming we’re doing things
in the galleries we’re looking at and talking about art. And we’re also making art in our brand new
art-making studio.Heidi Davis-Soylu: It’s actually quite unusual to have an art therapist
on staff at a university art museum. There are a handful of art therapy programs
at big city art museums. But the Eskenazi Museum of Art is really at
the leading edge of the art therapy presence in university context. Our art therapy program is going to make the
museum more accessible to individuals with disabilities for example, or those with mental
health concerns, or simply those wanting to grow and learn more about themselves and the
world they live in. As a teaching museum, we feel it is important
to invite every audience possible to engage with our collection and to experience our
art therapy program.Lauren Daugherty: The way art therapists utilize art materials is
a little bit different from traditional art educators. For example, individuals with anxiety, they
often are most successful with materials that are more controllable. So things like collage, markers, and colored
pencils. And folks that can handle art materials that
offer a little bit more of an emotive response — they will use things such as pastels and
watercolor. There are art materials that fit individuals
of all levels of functioning and art therapists are specifically trained mental health professionals
that know when to use those materials to support their clients and make them as successful
as possible.Sharon Wiseman: I was fortunate to take part in an Art Heals class that Lauren
Daugherty gave for Lifelong Learning at IU and I learned some very interesting things. First, what fun it was to be exposed to a
lot of different art materials —everything from clay to watercolor to pastels. And as an adult we just don’t have that
much opportunity to play and to work with art materials. Second, it was very interesting for me to
learn how art and art materials could be used in therapy to help people lead better lives. And it gives me great hope that many people
will have an opportunity to take advantage of this. And third, it was very satisfying to be able
to use color, line, art materials in a way to express emotions or something that was
happening in my own life. And then to see it, there physically, or on
paper. And I really hope that more people have an
opportunity to experience art therapy.Lauren Daugherty: Art therapy at the Eskenazi Museum
of Art utilizes a unique approach — one that isn’t really present in the majority
of art therapy programs. It places just as much emphasis on the meanings
that art therapy clients find in works in our collection and the meaning they find in
works they create themselves. By offering this type of art therapy in a
university art museum, we’re connecting students, staff, faculty, and members of the
Bloomington community with wonderful works of art. We’re exposing those same individuals to
the healing power of the creative process and are promoting health and well-being campus
and community wide. The art therapy program allows the museum
to further activate it’s wonderful collection and our art-making studio by encouraging deep,
personal meaning-making and reflection, which then allows art therapy clients to really,
you know, make a lasting connection with the museum, with specific works of art, and with
art making processes that lead to healing.

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