Art as Self Care

Posted on March 31,2014 by aliatmspp

This weekend, despite struggling to overcome a wicked stomach bug, I took some time out to stroll through the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) with a friend who was visiting town. Historically, I had considered taking in art as a luxury; currently, however, I am beginning to approach art viewing as a mode of self-care. It may not be the traditional example of “art therapy,” and I do love a good finger-painting session when possible, but for those of us who do not consider ourselves artists beyond Painting by Number, having the opportunities to delve into art as an observer (and by extension, an active participant) can be a healing and fulfilling process.

There’s something about walking around the MFA that is relaxing to me. I think it’s partially the quiet, the fact that visitors whisper when communicating, the absence of cellphone rings, along with the architecture itself – high ceilings grounded by stone upon which my boots made a hollow thud. And then, there’s the art. The number of pieces is overwhelming to me, so I try to have a plan of attack each visit. Most recently, my friend wanted to look at art of the ancient times, most specifically Greek and Roman sculptures. To me, there was an indulgent quality to getting lost in the marble, following the lines of the sculptures’ draperies. In a way, it’s a bit like an exercise meant to instill appreciation for the “here and now” by forcing me to focus on exactly what I see before taking a click out and thinking about the piece in historical context.

This rediscovered appreciation for art coincides with the arrival of new students at my practicum, some of whom are artistically inclined. Their work now serves as decoration in the classroom, and the creative use of colors, materials and perspective provides fodder for conversation in addition to enjoyment. Also, one of my clients recently completed a watercolor during an art enrichment period. We referenced it in a session, drawing upon the blend of colors as a parallel to the blend of emotions she experiences at any given moment. Maybe it’s spring’s arrival and the promise of crocuses popping up, or maybe it’s having the opportunity to catch my breath, but for whatever reason, I’m thankful that art has made its way back into my life.

I leave you with this image of Rodin’s hands sculpture as a “hurrah!” to art and as a reminder of how art can touch us.