Daily Archives: June 13, 2006

Art Education Petition in Finland

Adressi taideaineiden opetuksen puolesta

The education in arts in elementary school as well as primary- and
pre-school teacher training has been cut down during the past few years.
We regard arts as a fundamental part of all children’s education and do
not accept this trend.


Art education provides understanding of one’s senses, oneself and the
surrounding world. In today’s media culture this is more important than
ever. We want to believe in a school that cares for the entire
personality with uncompromised integrity.

This petition will be handed over to the Ministry of Education, the
Finnish National Board of Education, and the Parliament of Finland with
in order to initiate a debate on the status of art education.

Please sign…

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds – New York Times

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds

(First published : July 14, 2005)

The psychologist handed a painting by Frida Kahlo to a woman in a group therapy session for depression recently at a Brooklyn hospital. "I want you to tell me what you see here," the psychologist, María Sesín, said in Spanish. "What are you thinking about when you see this? How do you interpret it and relate it to your own lives?"

The paintings of Frida Kahlo help women open up in group therapy for depression at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The woman, Cricelva Villicres, 52, started to cry. "This is a united family," she said. "I cannot identify with them. There was so much violence and blood between my mother and father."

The painting, "My Parents, My Grandparents and I," shows Kahlo as a naked child holding a blood-red ribbon connecting her to portraits of her parents and grandparents. The 11 women gathered around a long table at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park took turns looking at it. When it was her turn, Vilma, who is 59, said: "It makes me feel very lonely. I have two children, but I am always alone. I do not have a family like this one." Vilma, who lives in
Prospect Park, spoke on the condition that her last name not be used, to protect her privacy.

The painting is one of 12 works by Kahlo that Dr. Sesín uses to treat Hispanic women who are suffering from depression, have been abused and have physical illnesses. The sessions are in Spanish, and the paintings help the women feel more comfortable discussing their traumatic experiences.

Though the effectiveness of her novel practice
has not been extensively evaluated, Dr. Sesín said Kahlo resonated with the women in her group not only because she was Mexican but also because she confronted some of the same emotional and physical problems. The paintings used in the therapy touch on themes like infidelity, violence, male dominance and infertility. Continued….

Mural depicts road to recovery at Sunrise House

New Jersey Herald

Photos by Eric Sucar/NJH
The large mural that was painted by some of the patients at the Sunrise House in Lafayette on Friday, June 9.  The mural, which took about two weeks to complete (one hour a day), is a compilation of eight different drawings patients created.

Herald Staff Writer


Step into the group room at Sunrise House and two doors open to reveal a flaming sun rising behind tall mountains. A paved road leads directly toward the sun with one road sign marking its path: The “Road 2 Recovery.”

The mural was painted by eight teens currently struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. The purpose of the brightly painted wall was to celebrate recovery — a difficult path to tread.

“The group decided the theme would be the ‘Road to Recovery,’ showing the first steps on the path to a different life,” said Katherine “Kate” Smith, clinical coordinator of Sunrise House’s adolescent drug treatment unit. “The purpose was to show them they can finish something they started.”

For more than five years, Sunrise House, an addiction recovery and treatment center in Lafayette, has helped teenagers through “Teen and Clean,” a program aimed at teens with cocaine, marijuana, heroin and alcohol addictions. About 100 youths go through the program each year, with more than one-third from Sussex County, according to Chief Executive Officer Phil Horowitz.

While in the program, which lasts 14 to 28 days, teens participate in group counseling, family therapy, 12-step support, family education, recreational activities, medical detoxification, psychological evaluation and academic tutoring.

The program also uses art therapy to help teens who have difficulty with expression cope with the recovery process, said Smith, a board-certified art therapist.

“Sometimes you need to look at something you’re feeling internally on the outside of yourself,” she said.

Art therapy also promotes group cohesion, Horowitz said.

“Part of the dynamics of adolescent substance abuse is peer pressure,” Horowitz said. “We take the synergy that leads to drug abuse and use the same power to pull them together for a positive end that’s inspiring to them.”

Colorful road signs made by the teens line the walls of the winding halls that lead to the group room.

A stop sign that stays “sobriety” and a “drug free zone” parking sign indicate the struggles the teens may face along the way.

“Recovery has to be fun for kids,” Smith said of the various art projects lining the walls.

The names of the teens who designed and created the mural were not released but the group, many of whom were admitted at the same time, is nearly finished with the program, Smith said. In fact, on Friday they were out burning letters they had written to their drugs of choice in a symbolic gesture that they were finished with their addiction, she said.

During a question-and-answer session the previous day, the teens were asked what they thought was the biggest misconception about recovery.

“That it’s easy,” was the reply.

For more information on Teen and Clean, the adolescent inpatient substance abuse unit at Sunrise House in Lafayette, call (973) 383-6300 or visit www.sunrisehouse.com.

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force | Connect for Kids

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force

Published: June 12, 2006

by: Martha Pitts
[Final products of the Whole Schools/Dream Yard kite-building project take flight.] Final products of the Whole Schools/Dream Yard kite-building project take flight.

A high school sophomore in New Orleans takes a picture of the green mold covering the walls of her house and writes in her journal about the much-anticipated day she and her family can return home permanently.

A young boy from Pascagoula, Mississippi sits in an art center in Fairhope, Alabama during a “hurricane healing” workshop. He draws a picture of a face, colors it blue, and draws waves under the eyes.

And another young boy, one of many displaced children living in a trailer park in Baker, La. with their families, makes an ant out of pipe cleaners and tells a therapist the ant is scared of drowning.

In the nine months since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, many children have used art and other creative activities to express themselves and to cope with the traumatic events associated with the hurricane. The concept of art therapy rests on the idea that creative activities offer ways for children and young people to revisit a traumatic experience in ways that are healing. And in the aftermath of Katrina, there’s a whole cohort of kids who need ways to process terrible loss on a large scale.

Why Art Therapy?

“Because of its interdisciplinary qualities—art, psychology, child development, arts education—art therapy is uniquely positioned to assist children with trauma,” said Paige Asawa, therapist and co-author of the book A History of Art Therapy in the United States.

Asawa and several of her colleagues from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles have taken numerous trips to the Renaissance Village, a FEMA trailer park in Baker, La., to work with children displaced by Katrina.

And while Asawa has worked with both children and adults who’ve experienced different kinds of trauma—death in the family and witnessing violence, for example—she says the experience of Katrina was different.

“You can’t compare them,” Asawa said. “You’re talking about the displacement of hundreds of thousands of kids, and the trauma went for days, in some cases for weeks and months. Families were relocated and torn apart.”

Because the complexity of the disaster was incomprehensible to many of the children, art therapy has been especially beneficial, allowing the kids to express the inexpressible and to unlock hidden feelings.

Simply by re-telling a story, Asawa said, a child can be re-traumatized as he or she vividly remembers troubling events. However, if they have something else to do in the context of remembering—drawing, playing with clay, for example—they are less likely to become traumatized again.

Initially, Asawa and the other therapists provided art supplies to get the participants—ages 4 to 21—engaged in a creative activity. When they were ready to tell their stories, Asawa helped them do that through art.

“We sit with them, hear what they say, and take what they’re saying to a therapeutic level,” Asawa says. She explains that by asking questions about a piece, or encouraging the children to use a different art medium, the therapists help the children understand the emotions the artwork is expressing. Continued…