by Rosa Abraham MS, VSC Victim Advocate/Crisis Counselor
“Art ● Arte”
One interesting part about art is that depending on who you ask, the definition will vary. If we “google it” art is defined as a noun and described as follows: “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” If you ask me, art is the tool that channels balance between our mind and body. As humans we have innate qualities, skills and traits that mixed with our personality, become an authentic expression of “self”. The journey of self is often creative, based in patterns and unexpected life events.
Looking back at history, art has created a pathway for future generations to capture the essence of human development. However, they could often be overlooked. For instance, let’s track back to the Roman Empire and the huge structures that remain to captivate our minds. The painting in the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the Taj Ma Jal in India, and the Library of Congress in Washington. How about the famous Leonardo Da Vin Ci paintings and the everlasting statue of liberty, the Pyramids and the Sphynx in Egypt. This is because art has many shapes and forms to explore. In certainty, art has shown us that it can be manifested in many techniques, methodologies and often mixing materials available, such as many ancient civilizations did. If we start seeing art with a different scope, we might tap into a new world filled with underlining significance through our societies, religions, cultures and individual interpretations of life.
In traditional ways, art has captivated the walls of museums and books, with creations of famous artists that remain to be present including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet to mention some. In another less traditional way, there’s other types of art, to include body painting, street art (graffiti), and tattoos. Overall, they have a common factor which is the ability to illustrate a message.
Art & Crisis
Art has become an unspoken language that allows for individuals to create a world, offer an opinion, validate details, ignite emotion and more commonly, create a distraction.
A crisis, as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, is an “emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life.” As a crisis counselor, this definition resonates with my daily role of supporting survivors of violence navigate a painful expedition that impacted their lives in unexpected ways. Through time, we can appreciate how some of the major social events have been plastered through art. In an article written by Manatakis (2018), the author highlights 10 art pieces that helped humanity in times of crisis. All the way from the AIDS outbreak in 1980s to the “Congo conflicts” in 2011, the climate change in 2015 and the influence of new era social media art displays. Some may represent emotional aspects of pain, sadness, solidarity, pride, hate, love, hope, confusion, very similar to what I capture in the eyes of our survivors at VSC. Considering this point of reference, we can say that art is very resourceful for our ability to memorialize or process events in our lives.
Crisis are unexpected, chaotic, overwhelming and exhausting to say the least. However, life responsibilities continue and sometimes we are forced to regulate as fast as we can to endure. Nevertheless, occasionally we can find ourselves in a black hole with many questions and limited answers. If we change the focus towards how we can contribute to process the crisis, we might find ourselves navigating new activities in order to regain control or reconnect with ourselves. I believe art has that power.
In this time of crisis, I invite you to think about how we can incorporate art in the process of self-care and emotional externalization. In college, I was once told by a professor of philosophy that “within crisis opportunities arise.” Maybe this is the time to start exploring a new language to communicate.
Art as a Crisis Counselor
In the process of becoming a professional in the mental health field I was lucky to discover a passion for painting; Don’t get it twisted, I am no professional painter. However, I do appreciate the sense of peace and alignment the process of creating art generates in me. Therefore, I have developed the two most important aspects of my personality: helping others and creating by utilizing art as a coping mechanism with survivors of violence.
In order to highlight the power of art in healing, I want to share some of the art pieces VSC staff has developed through community projects with survivors of traumatic events, sexual violence and domestic violence.
How Can I try to Incorporate Art in my Life?
Art is a discipline, for many, a profession. However, in this case, we are pursuing a rather instinctive approach to process emotions, communicate or simply ground ourselves from the chaotic surroundings we are confronting this year. Some ideas for art exploration may include:
- Painting in various mediums (watercolor, acrylic, oils, pastels, mixed methods, the possibilities are endless)
- Pottery and sculpting
- Collage, decoupage and pieces using recycled paper
- Coloring books
- Remodeling old pieces of furniture
- Creating images with wood
Art Social Media Challenge
Now that we briefly navigated the power of art and crisis elements, I invite you to create some sort of art piece that illustrates how you manage emotions or process ideas. Some ideas for you to consider are:
- Stressful event
- Social awareness
- Social Advocacy
- Enjoyful event
- A message to your community
If this blog has ignited the passion to explore new ways of communicating, participate in this art challenge.
Please tag your art piece in social media with the hashtag #CreativityInCrisis, #VSCFlorida. Tag the agency is the following social media portals:
Facebook: The Victim Service Center of Central Florida, @VSCFlorida
This is my art piece for the challenge based in the topic of “social advocacy”
I can’t wait to see what you create!