Art is medicine for the mind, and the mind and body are linked; one helps the other to heal. Five years ago, after a few close family members fell ill, I found myself in various waiting rooms, numerous doctor’s offices and several hospital rooms with my mind racing, eyes wandering and nothing to help take away the pain of waiting for the doctor’s results. It was during this time that I found the power of art. After months of sitting and waiting with only my wandering mind I began to take my art history textbooks with me. As I waited for my family members to heal, to come out of surgery, or as we waited to receive results, I would find moments of peace in the exquisitely detailed paintings from the Old Masters or I would take trips to Africa in my mind to see what masks were danced in which secret societies. The art became a healthy distraction from my scary thoughts. Since this experience it has been my mission to bring the healing power of art to those who need it most. It is this mission that brings me to RxArt.In my previous work as an art therapist, the incredible therapeutic benefits of visual art were again validated. During this time I helped lead a weekly art discussion group in a studio and gallery space for adults with developmental disabilities. The members were encouraged to look at photos of contemporary art and then participate in discussions regarding what they saw and their emotional responses. During these groups I witnessed the most painfully shy members interact with each other and make valuable connections. I observed others become inspired to create their own work and form an identity as an artist, and I watched as some members use the art as a vessel to discuss and ultimately work through troubling issues. The art was a medium for growth and healing. RxArt provides art as mental medicine and I am exhilarated to be a part of this brilliant team. I look forward to our journey together and I hope to help others feel more comfortable during the most difficult times and in the most uncomfortable settings.
Photograph copyright Chris Rainier, National Geographic Society