Creating art from the heart

Published 7:59 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Art therapy has been around since the 1940s. Two pioneers in the field, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer, used art therapy as a way to help clients tap into their inner thoughts, feelings and experiences through creative expression.

The Johnson Center for the Arts and Troy Regional Medical Center have recently combined their resources to put art therapy into practice, at the center’s Senior Behavioral Care Unit.

And, the class members are having fun while creating art.

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Andrea Pack has recently been teaching art classes at the Troy Regional Medical Center’s Senior Behavioral Care unit.

“Speaking on behalf of the Johnson Center for the Arts, we are privileged to collaborate with Troy Regional Medical Center in this program sponsored through a grant from the Alabama Council on the Arts,” Pack said. “We have been looking for ways to expand our mission to bring the influence of arts to our community, and to all types of folks.”

Pack said the classes are learning experiences for all involved.

“Often the participants will express misgivings over their abilities, but our class is not about how ‘good’ the end result is. It’s about sitting down and trusting that the process itself is a form of connecting with ourselves and healing,” Pack said. “I think that adults of all ages and abilities have trouble conceiving of themselves as artists, but, truly, we are all able to create something from nothing. That’s the essence of being human.”

Pack said the goal of the art class is to see participation and relaxation in an activity that brings joy and creativity to the patients who are away from their families and homes.

“Art does that,” she said.

Amy Minor, Troy Regional Chief Clinical Officer, said Troy Medical Center appreciates the partnership with the Johnson Center and the opportunity it has given the center’s patients to participate in creative activities.

“Our Senior Behavioral Care patient base is 55 years old and older, “Minor said. “We sometimes forget that adult and geriatric patients enjoy being artistic and creative. I’ve been amazed at the talent expressed in this artwork.”

Minor said the art projects have enabled the medical center’s patients to positively express themselves, and the exposure to different media has been fun for them.

“Some of our patients have never worked with the paints and textures that were used in these projects,” Minor said. “These activities have proven to be not only fun, but also therapeutic.”

Together, and with the support of ASCA, the Johnson Center for the Arts and Troy Regional Medical Center are using art to make the days of those in the medical center’s Senior Behavioral Care Unit a little brighter by bringing a color into their lives.