As mental health awareness becomes a priority for more and more people, the Quinlan Visual Art Center has introduced a new Art Therapy Program to help individuals navigate their emotional needs through artistic exploration.
The new program offers art classes taught by therapists who are trained to teach emotional intelligence with art.
Nairika Cornett, Quinlan’s Executive Director, explained who could benefit from the program:
“The program isn't solely geared to what we imagine, for people who are having issues with anxiety or issues with depression, of course, they are for those people, but it's very much for those of us who think we're doing fine,” she said. “It's that learning to express or identify our feelings more deeply, coming to terms with certain things that we may not may be shutting out from having to address in life. It's just really learning another language with which we can express ourselves, and art seems to be a language that everyone speaks and understands, and for some reason, allows a sense of safety and revelation.”
Quinlan kicked off the new program by offering classes to elementary-aged children and will expand the program to offer classes to teens, adults, and senior citizens this summer.
Cornett highlighted that each class will focus on different issues or insecurities each age group may face. For example, a teen's class may focus on self-portraits to talk about self-esteem and a healthy body image. In a class for senior citizens who may be losing their hand movement, students may learn how to create art in a way that allows them to practice their motor skills.
Cornett also emphasized that the class is not just for artists.
“We are committed to expanding the offerings, more than just for art lovers,” she said. “We know there is a need, especially with the things we have gone through as a community with COVID isolation issues. We want to address these issues without shying away from them. We never want to make the victim feel like they're not heard. They have to be ashamed about what happened to them. Clearly, they're not the problem. We want to give those people a safe space at Quinlan and in the creative process, help them address what they've been going through and to really come out learning how to handle these issues, but also making them see themselves in a better light.”
The program will differ from a typical therapy session as those who enter will not be required to talk about their personal feelings or experiences, although it is not discouraged. The main goal is to give participants the ability to learn healthy coping skills and express their feelings through creation.
Cornett explained some find this more appealing for a variety of reasons.
“When you ask somebody to talk about trauma, they're talking directly about what's happened to them,” she said. “ What happens when you do the same thing, but through art, they are able to put it on a medium and then talk about what's on the medium.”
To learn more about Quinlan's new program and sign up for classes, visit their website, or call ( 770)-536-2575.