Let’s heal with art

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Photo: Tarinee Seth

Art has the power to talk to the known and unknown. It is about getting away from stereotypes in art that we can be a larger influence in any field. My perspective is very different from what the natural norm is and may communicate very different things to different people,” Sadhna Prasad, artist and vice captain at Aravani Art project, Bangalore. She got into art when she was quite young as her mother reckoned she get into it. When asked how she feels while creating art, she responds, “refreshed, thankful and curious.”

Art therapy is a creative method of therapy which allows the pursuer to release/harness his energy through art. It is widely used in psychotherapy. The tenets of art therapy involve humanism, creativity, reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, and personal growth. “Demand for creative arts training in India is increasing. It’s only a matter of time before it catches up,” says Evan Hasting, a theatre artist and mentor residing in Bangalore. Psychotherapists have started to engage their patients in creative arts. “It helps release stress, alleviate phobias and anxiety,” says Saul Periera. Periera has been practising psychotherapy from the last 20 years and has started using art as therapy only recently.

Breaking the taboo

“Since seeking therapy is such a stigma in India, I did my own research and decided to try my hand at art on my own. At first, it was a challenge finding inspiration but once I got the hang of it, it helped me tremendously,” says Renu Aggarwal. Aggarwal is a home maker and paints when her husband and kids leave for work and school respectively. She has turned the lobby of her house into her art gallery.

Tarinee Seth, a graduate from Pratt School, New York, says that it doesn’t really bother her when she gets negative feedback. “I create art for myself,” she adds. One of her projects which received mixed reviews is the Enemy-Friend-Lover project focuses on self image issues and general physical insecurities. “Everyone I talked to had something which they disliked about their body. I came up with the project and named it thus to show that there are no restrictions to who I draw,” shares Seth. The Enemy-Friend-Lover project encourages people to share their naked pictures with Seth, who would then portray them on her canvas in her attempt to show that each and everyone is beautiful. “For me, you are desirable when you feel good in your own skin. If you walk out of your house feeling confident, that’s when you’re desirable. Nothing else really matters,” Seth adds.

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Photo: Sadhna Prasad

“Art therapy is not therapy for artists. For example, in talk therapy, talking is the modality. Similarly when you use art as therapy, art is the modality. You don’t need to have an artistic bent of mind to reap the benefits of art therapy,” says Anita Jacob. Jacob works at SMArT (Studio for movement arts and therapy), Bangalore. Their mission is to bring together various artists aimed at providing a stimulating experience for the artist as well as for the audience.

Therapeutic recovery

Gaurvi Sharma, artist and art therapy graduate shares her story when she created a series of drawings depicting bipolar disorder. “I created the series with my friend who is bipolar. She narrated and I drew her narratives,” Sharma shares. “It helped me know what she was going through while she was overwhelmed to see the visual form of her experiences. We are still working on this and in the next series i will be helping her give a visual form to her poetry,” Sharma adds. Sharma did a series of drawings depicting her experiences with post natal depression. “It helped me release my deepest emotions and gradually through art and visuals, I started to recover.”

“Art can be used as a therapy as it helps people to express their emotions in different ways. It’s very important to express and people who can’t express, start piling up their emotions and slowly those pent up emotions take an ugly shape of depression and other mental illnesses,” adds Sharma.


About the author

Ashima is a Journalist from Bangalore, India. She pretends not to love poems but has been writing poetry since she was a kid. Her poetry is without fail a description of things that matter to her – like her love for popcorn! Find Ashima on Twitter and Medium.