Questions About Art

Can Art Heal?

I had a diary from about 3rd grade until I was a sophomore in college. When I read them on occasion it takes me back to that moment in my life. At the same time it shows me what age and time do to a person. The things I was concerned about at 12 are a bit different then today. I have a record of one of the major chunks of great transition in my life.

When I was a teenager I wrote really dorky poems about the current boy I had a crush on. I read them now and get a good laugh. I also sketched pencil drawings about various things. Here are a couple of examples.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was having a conversation with myself. That is essentially what art begins as. You start with the personal, and if you are genuine and honest it becomes universal. Every aspect of art has the potential to heal. My love poems and drawings helped me work through my silly (but serious at the time) issues. And my art today does the same thing. I work out ideas, thoughts and feelings when I produce work. But, I don’t have to be making art to be healed by it, I’ve been knocked out by works of art that have changed my life forever.

So, as you have probably already deduced my answer to the question, can art heal? is a vibrant YES! My little drawings are just a tiny itty bitty example of the power of art.

What are your thoughts?

Share in the comments below or connect with us here or BOTH!


  • k_campisano

    So, maybe as a busy artist and educator I can only respond effectively to a question per month rather than per week, so I’m going to combine them (also cause I find them related):

    “Why do children make more art than adults? At what point (age) do
    most people stop making art a daily practice–and why do you think
    they stop? Do you think that stereotypes of what it means to be an
    artist, effect peoples/children’s art making ability?
    “Can Art Heal?”

    I knew when I became interested in education that the age I needed to work with the most was the teen-age. This is where everything broke down for me, like the pulling away of the veil and I began to suspect that the world was a lie, everything every adult told me was a fiction that they had convinced themselves to believe in. I still feel the rebellion and risk-taking that comes naturally in those years. I also knew that the way I was able to survive was through art and music – making and experiencing – directly and indirectly.
    And here you have a healing aspect. Time, ego and consciousness shift as we work out a creative problem or engage with materials, light, structures. We are invested in the outcome, but equally engaged in the process to inform it. As a result, our mind opens us to the multiple applications in solving “non-creative” problems as well. It teaches us to observe before we react, to focus to exercise patience and forgiveness of ourselves and of others. We have only been convinced as adults that it is in our best interests to compete with each other rather than to complete each other. More and more businesses and government agencies are beginning to recruit from creative fields because they recognize this ability that we as artists cultivate in ourselves.

    As far as I can discern from my research and experience, the development of ego and boundaries associated with adolescent and adult identity has an inhibiting impact on art making and creative play (particularly in our society). In adolescence we begin to define who/what we are and who/what we are not. You hear adults all the time saying things like “I can’t draw a straight line, but am good at fixing things.” Is that not an art skill? or “”Loved literature, sucked at math”.
    One of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have had as a public high school teacher whose specialty is “Art” is working across subject areas to integrate and incorporate concepts and practices from language arts, social sciences and visual arts…sometimes even science and math! So that addresses another factor – differentiation and specialization of skills in our educational system beginning in middle and high school and full bloom in college where becoming an expert in one area requires one to declare a major (I always had a problem with this) and the misunderstanding of what left and right brain activity refer to. Artists connect both hemispheres. We are the meaning makers and the engineers. Perhaps in a few generations if we approach education differently, the fear of embarrassment that comes with making art as an adult will lessen – I know I still feel intimidated to draw with my husband because he’s such a good illustrator.


  • Lauren Odell Usher

    Wow, thanks for answering the many questions we posed Kim. I’d have to agree with pretty much all of it. I do think the education system needs to be flipped upside down and re-evaluated. I don’t feel that most kids are taught how to think, they are just thought what to think in order to pass a test. In terms of the business world, I always found it interesting that businesses invite “creative people” into their office when everyone else needs a boost–at the yearly retreat, but many would never consider hiring them full time. It is as though there is a time and place for art and creativity, and it can’t be an everyday thing.

  • Alicia Berta

    I am working on a project for a hospice I have been working with as an intern for the past two months. I am making a book for teens about grief and coping with loss. I love your little sketches and story and was hoping to incorporate them into this material. Please just let me know if I could do this with your work. Thanks.

  • Lauren Odell Usher

    Hi Alicia,

    I would be perfectly delighted to have you use my photos in your book. Can you give us more detail about what you are working on? Can we interview you about your internship and what you have been learning about art and healing?

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