Healing through the creation of art

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The Times Plus, Monroe Times, Monroe, Wisconsin, USA

Healing through the creation of art

Published Monday, January 22, 2007 10:17:33 AM Central Time

By Ellen Williams-Masson

MONROE — Jennifer Edge believes in the power of art. Jennifer Edge of the Primitive Soul Art Studio guides a home-school class of art students as they select images for an “I have a dream” collage in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Pictured, from left, are John Keizer, Vincent Carus, Calli Vestin and Spencer Vestin.
Times photo: Ellen Williams-Masson

Creating art can help reshape life experiences that may be too painful for words, providing an outlet for emotions that may be therapeutic in the hands of an experienced art therapist.

“Sometimes clients aren’t able to talk about what has happened to them, or maybe they have retold and retold their stories, but when you bring in the art something different happens, something can change,” Edge said.

Edge is an art therapist at the Primitive Soul Art Studio in Monroe.

“When we put those experiences into art, we can process them and get them out. We can put our anger into the art; we can break things and then make something new out of it. It’s almost like a mirror they can look into Š and sometimes there’s a moment of ‘aha.'”

Edge has a master’s degree in art therapy and is an outpatient and in-home art therapist for Oregon Mental Health Services. Edge also works as a teen specialist for the Parental Stress Center in Madison, which offers peer support to parents and families under stress.

Through serving as the Parent Stressline coordinator, Edge helps maintain a free and confidential resource for parents experiencing stress.

The third hat Edge wears is as owner of the Primitive Soul Art Studio, where she offers traditional art classes as well as individual and group art therapy. She said that it was important for her to make the studio a welcoming place for everyone, and having a mixture of traditional art classes with professional art therapy sessions helps protect client privacy.

“I wanted to make it a place where there’s no stigma about walking through the door,”

Edge said. “No one knows why anyone is coming in here. In a small community it’s really important that we have confidentiality.”

Edge will be presenting a talk, “In search of the primitive soul,” at the Monroe Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. After using case studies to illustrate how art therapy can be used to complement other therapy methods, Edge will help attendees find their “primitive soul” through a 30-minute art making session.

“I define a primitive soul as a being that expresses whatever they feel, however they feel, through art, without holding back, without inhibitions,” Edge said. “A primitive soul creates because of their instinctual call to create.”

Edge said that people are born into the world with a primitive desire to create, but that innate passion can be lost as people become more inhibited about expressing themselves through art.

“As an art therapist, I believe it is my calling to help individuals uncover their primitive soul, finding the artist within and helping the individual bring their creative soul out into the world,” she said.

Edge lives in Oregon but decided to open the art studio in Monroe because she identified a need in the area. Through open studio times for families and a large home-school program during the day, she is reaching out to an increasing number of people in the community.

Her studio pioneered the Shakespeare Project, a drama workshop for youth that compares our modern culture with characters and topics in the works of William Shakespeare to combat themes of abuse and violence.

This year’s program will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays from March 8 until May 31, culminating in a performance by the kids at the Monroe Arts Center in May.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with actors from the American Players Theater on Friday, April 6 as well as attend a performance at the theater in Spring Green in June.

The Shakespeare Project has been supported by the Wisconsin Arts Board since its inception in 2005 and is open to children ages 10 to 18 years old. Applications are due by March 1 and more information is available at the Primitive Soul Art Studio, 325-5268, or at http://www.primitivesoulart.com.


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