Art therapy has been known to improve mental, emotional and even physical states. “The meditative quality art possesses help us overcome and cope,” said local artist Ashley Gordon. “I feel that improves my quality of life and can help others in one way or another.”
During February, known as National Heart Health month, health and wellness patients can participate in “Matters of the Heart,” a month-long art project at Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca.
The project will help patients process emotions and feelings though art. “We wanted to provide a different form of communication that is therapeutic, fun and will create a fantastic community painting in the process,” said Gordon.
The Matters of The Heart project will take place in the lobby of the 900 building in the Health and Wellness Department of the hospital. Gordon will be on hand for a few hours on Monday mornings to guide individuals. There will be a variety of media to make a collaborative mixed piece. People can try their hand at acrylics, traditional painting and color mixing and collage, incorporating an item dear to them that will be placed within the piece itself. “This project is a great way to work as a community to advocate and heal,” said Gordon.
Individuals can still work on the project even when Gordon is not around. “The great thing about art, I believe, is you can’t get anything wrong; it has a relatively low entry level for skill and anyone can create in some way or another,” she said.
This is Gordon’s first official art therapy project. She has used it personally and with her children, especially her daughter, who was 5 when diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “We laugh, we cry, we struggle, we rejoice, and some days are very bad days, and through it all we have to work as a family to cope,” she said. “I have found to help deal with the emotional stress of a chronic disease is to express the emotions you have. I encourage journaling, drawing, storytelling and active advocating to help her feel better and more in control of her health. The reality down the line is the long-term effects it will have on her body, so heart health and all health are near and dear to my heart.”
The finished Matters of the Heart piece will be unveiled on the last Monday of February and hung later at a location yet to be determined.
For more information, contact the Health and Wellness Department at RMC at (715) 258-1183. Gordon will be in the lobby of the 900 Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays in February.