I believe that no medication, rehabilitation process or therapy session has as powerful an ability to heal as does art. Art is the essence of life, and for those who need a boost, it will be there to pick them up and carry them to health. It can lift you out of the deepest, coldest depths of the abyss that life can feel like. Or it can allow you to assist others who are struggling by giving you a chance to create something that you have envisioned together. Art unifies, alleviates and offers sanity to those of us who need it sometimes.
I have come to this conclusion after having had art in my life for eighteen years now. From early on as a child, art was something I clung to. This hasn’t changed. I still cling to the creative forces of myself and the rest of mankind. I cling to them the way acrylic clings to canvas, the way a painting clings to a wall. I cling to them for safety and support. These creative forces are my survival.
Art’s importance to me became apparent when I was ten years old. Sometime during my parent’s divorce life became increasingly hectic, frightening and uncertain. For a ten year old, a divorce is a scary thing. At the height of the chaos that plagued my early years, my brother came home one day with the most beautiful creation I had seen. It was a tempera painting of a smiley faced cowboy, with shimmering green grass behind him and bright, optimistic blue eyes. He gave it to me to keep. Suddenly the chaos and the fear and the uncertainty washed away like a watery brush-stroke, and in that moment art became my healer of all wounds.
Later on in elementary school I struggled with being teased and harassed. I would come home each day, sobbing or not talking to anyone in my family. Despite being constantly teased by my classmates, I found my escape from them in the form of an art class. I vividly remember idealistically sketching my old home and my old school with brown and green colored pencils and imagining I was still there. When I started high school, art took over completely. I couldn’t get enough chances to unleash my creativity in school, so I would often paint and doodle at home. It helped me at a time when trying to fit in and trying to discover myself dictated.
I decided in my senior year that I should attempt to give art to as many people as I could. I joined the National Art Honor Society and spent a considerable amount of my time helping others discover how to use their own instinctive creative forces to better and beautify their lives and communities. Our activities involved art projects with children, rasing money for non-profit art groups, organizing an arts festival for local kids to participate in, and designing a mural to be painted on the wall of a distressed nursing home. Being involved in these activities clearly revealed to me that those same artistic instincts that got me through the tough times could also be used to aid others. I want to show others how to let art fix everything for them. I want that same feeling my brother must have had when he gave me that painting of the optimistic-eyed cowboy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.