Last week Jay and I had the great privilege of attending the gallery opening of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Clinical Art Therapy Department's "ARTWorks" exhibit, at the Frost Museum. We were stunned by the fantastic work being done as part of this art therapy program - both the wonderful creativity of the students, and the stellar programming and support provided by the staff of art therapists.
The exhibit centered around the theme "The Art of Relationship Building: challenging students to create a visual narrative on paper panels which are hung together to create a quilt. By retelling their story the students discover how their relationships have affected them while exploring and reconciling emotional conflicts."
Here's the backstory on this one: in 2009 ArtThread's faculty did a series of training sessions throughout Florida, as part of the Project 10: Transition Education Network program. The goal was to train 100 teachers, therapists, and counselors to use our Work of Art program with transitioning students with disabilities in Florida public schools. The Miami training session was especially notable - we had no power or internet when the class began, so we had to do a major improv until the class was moved to a different location.
Fast forward to today, and we find the art therapists we trained, lead by Craig Seigel and Dr. Patricia Isis, have integrated the Work of Art program into their art therapy program, and these students have become experts in using Splash!, ArtThread's online, no-fail, big-fun artmaking tool.
The exhibit was truly amazing - the students used their moments of creativity to explore some deep emotions, and they got a taste of how making art can become a vital opportunity for processing life's most challenging experiences. It was all there on the walls - the tough times and the victories - all in the language of art.
Hung in the beautiful Frost Museum on the campus of Florida International University, and coordinated by therapists Leah Guzman and Yehoshua Ventura, each piece was accompanied by statements from the artist and the therapist, and the combination of the words and the art gave us an incredible window into the hearts and minds of these talented kids - many of whom are faced with emotional and behavioral challenges.
For Jay and me it was an epiphany - a moment that helped to validate our hard work, and the very existence of the ArtThread Foundation. We saw it happening before our eyes - people being creative, coming together and feeling better - this is the work of the ArtThread Foundation!
We look forward to more collaboration with the Miami-Dade Art Therapy team, and with all our wonderful partners.
You can see this art and many other pieces on the Project 10/ArtThread Gallery.
Here are a couple of the many pieces, with the artist and therapist statements:
Amazing color here: