By Jennifer Sadler
Art has the potential to transform lives in profound ways. The impact of the arts in all its diverse forms is especially apparent when used as a therapeutic tool for health and wellness, psychotherapy, community development, service to others and social transformation. The practice of art as therapy is very much alive in the Columbus community. Several local organizations and programs use art as a tool for healing and strive to make the arts more accessible to everyone including VSA Ohio—the state organization on arts and disability, Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, Fresh A.I.R. Gallery. Columbus is also home to Don Jones—often called the “father of art therapy”—a founder, past president and Honorary Life member of both the American Art Therapy Association and the Buckeye Art Therapy Association.
According to the Art Therapy Association, art therapy is defined as a nonverbal and creative way to help develop coping skills, reduce anxiety or fear and articulate repressed feelings. It involves the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, and can be used by people who are struggling with illness, trauma or challenges in living and by people who seek personal development. Art therapists have studied art and mastered psychology and human development. Art therapists can work with people of all ages and can help an individual, a couple, a family or groups of people.
Whether a person seeks professional help with a certified art therapist or is simply interested in the therapeutic benefits of art in general, the arts are worth exploring as a creative outlet and a catalyst for healing.
In August of 2008, at just 20 months old, Joshua Riederer was diagnosed with a Wilm's tumor, a rare cancer of the kidney that primarily affects children. Throughout his months of diffcult treatment at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Josh's passion for art and creating it gave him the chance to forget about his troubles and to feel like just a kid, having fun. Josh's mom, Melissa, reflects here on the joy and healing that art brought to her family during the toughest time in their lives. Josh is now a strong and healthy four-year-old boy and just celebrated his first illness-free birthday in December.
By Melissa Riederer
For our family, using art as therapy was simple. We'd wait for the sounds of the hospital's Art Cart coming to the pediatric oncology floor. If you were in a room near the front of the unit, you couldn’t miss the sound of its wheels bumping over the small hump near the doors. The teenaged Art Cart volunteers always loved when Josh would stand in his door, patiently waiting for the cart to roll to his room. "Mommy it's the Art Cart! The Art Cart is COMING!!!!!!" The whole floor then knew the cart had arrived, as Josh only had one volume when it came to the Art Cart. Josh wanted one thing and one thing only, a new wooden toy to paint.
Over the course of two years of hospital admissions we have accumulated several slithering snakes, a pair of motorcycles, a helicopter, a fish, a dinosaur, an alligator, an elephant, a treasure box and Josh's most prized art project— a handmade wooden bus that has functioning wheels. In lieu of a wooden object to paint we would get a large sheet of paper to paint and odds and ends to smash into the wet paint, feathers, sparkles, gems, anything that could use the paint like glue.
Wexner Center presents Second Stage Theatre’s Let Me Down Easy
Anna Deavere Smith of TV’s Nurse Jackie and The West Wing brings her Off-Broadway hit Let Me Down Easy to the Lincoln Theatre in a weeklong run. In this critically acclaimed solo show about the power of the body and the resilience of the human spirit, Smith portrays 20 real-life characters that she interviewed, all offering perspectives on dealing with injury, illness, health care and mortality in a show that is both moving and entertaining.
Grandview Heights Public Library presents The Salty Caramels in Music at the Atrium
Columbus singer/songwriters Molly Winters, Angela Perley, and Bree Frick comprise this charming pop/folk trio, with influences spanning from the girl group sounds of the 1940s-60s to Americana folk. Formed in September 2010, The Salty Caramels play a rotating variety of instruments, including a suitcase bass drum, resonator guitar, acoustic bass, washboard, saw and kazoo, to name a few.
Thurber House presents Evenings with Authors: Noah Boyd & Paula McClain
The Thurber House Evenings with Authors program brings the Columbus community a stellar roster of award-winning, bestselling writing talent. Thurber House’s mission is to celebrate the written word for the education and entertainment of the broadest possible audience, and to continue the legacy of James Thurber. The Evenings with Authors series is a commitment to that mission and audiences alike.