The Link Between the Arts, Health and Wellness

In Featured, Mental Health Resources, News by Beth Storch

Nutrition and exercise seem to be the buzz words for being healthy and maintaining mental wellness. Other advice includes having a good sleep routine, practicing relaxation, and having a good social network.  Are you looking for something else to add to your toolbox? Why not try the arts?

The Arts, Health and Wellness

The link between the arts and health and well-being goes back many years.  In fact, the use of the arts in health has been increasing for the past thirty years. The “arts” are more than just drawing and painting. It includes music, dance and movement, writing, sculpture, woodwork, mosaics, jewelry making, fiber art (including weaving, knitting, and crocheting) and more.  You don’t need to be an “artist” or a professional crafts person to benefit from doing these activities. The act of being creative is the key and it can help decrease everyday str1ess and anxieties. Participating in the arts can also help with depression, increase positive emotions and, in some cases, even improve immune system functioning. And, if you create art within a group setting, you can form supportive relationships and friendships. Creativity is increasingly being validated as a potent mind-body approach to address a variety of challenges. Why not give it a try?

Where to Go

There are a number of small businesses in the Madison area where you can glaze pottery, paint, do glass work, and other types of art, and many also offer classes. Here are some places you might want to check out:

Cornucopia Art  
Cornucopia is an arts and wellness center run for and by people with mental health issues and their allies. Through friendship, they celebrate creativity and diversity. They promote growth and dignity by helping members develop strengths and talents which build personal, professional and community life skills.

Studio 84
Studio 84 is a nonprofit art studio that provides experiences in the visual arts and theater for the community. They specialize in working with all people including those with Autism, physical disabilities, cognitive limitations and mental illness. They believe in creating an environment of inclusion whenever possible and they are open to all ages and all abilities.

Monroe Street Arts Center
Monroe Street Arts Center engages a community of learners in exploring the arts and developing the creative self.  It offers music lessons (piano, violin, voice, guitar, harmonica, trumpet, and more)–and art classes including drawing, painting, photography, and print-making.

ArtWorking
The Artworking program is located in Madison and provides career-oriented support for artists with cognitive disabilities. Artworking serves artists in a professional studio work space as well as in community and private settings such as an artist’s personal studio space or at public events, workshops, sales opportunities etc.

Donna Lexa Art Centers
The Donna Lexa Art Centers has been enriching lives of people with special needs since 1985.  Donna Lexa was an art therapist whose dream was to provide an environment of creative expression for specialized populations. “Artwork is an extension of the person.  If the artwork is accepted, the artist is accepted.  That stimulates independence, self-confidence, and motivation,” explained Donna. The centers provide visual art instruction for adults and teens with special needs, as well as for older adults of all abilities.

VSA Wisconsin
VSA Wisconsin helps people with disabilities ages 16 and up explore the creative arts through classes and workshops in visual art, movement/dance, drama and music. Classes are taught by professional artists teach ceramics, visual arts including watercolors, acrylic painting, mixed media sculpting and photography and music and movement classes including drumming, singing, dancing, exploring a large variety of musical instruments.

Encore Studio
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts is the only professional theatre company for people with disabilities in the state of Wisconsin. Encore Studio offers an innovative, inclusive, and professional environment where all people work together in the pursuit of artistic and theatrical excellence.

Art and Healing Network
The Arts and Healing Network offers a list of possible grant and sponsorship opportunities through a robust database that is searchable by location and media.  The database is extensive and covers many different venues. It’s worth exploring.