Art is human emotion in a physical form.
I still remember when my grade school art teacher said this in response to being grilled by one of my classmates about what art really is. Honestly, I had never really thought about art beyond thinking it was one of my favorite classes – a chance to get away from some of the “book learning” at school. But once he said those words, I realized they were the perfect definition of what what art is and they stuck with me all these years.
Art is great way for people to express things that might be hard to talk about. This is why art therapy is such a great addition to treatment programs and why I’m thrilled to be partnering with Rosecrance, a non-profit substance abuse program in Illinois. Rosecrance’s art therapy program is headed up by a Master’s level art therapist who works with the patients to help them tease out the meaning behind the art they create.
One particularly meaningful art project is now on display in Milwaukee.
Teen aged patients at Rosecrance’s adolescence campus created insightful pieces of art using shoes decorated to convey their feelings about their own experiences with substance use and abuse. Each shoe is unique and tells the story of its creator’s experiences. From shoe selection to decoration to presentation, the shoe gives a small glimpse what it is like to be a teen struggling with substance use. the teens used acrylic paints and mixed media such as gems, paper mache, glitter, pipe cleaners, etc. to visualize their message, and they completed story cards to accompany their shoe to provide perspective on their design and its meaning.
This traveling art display is a great way to encourage conversation about things that might be hard to talk about.
While most parents know that having “the talk” about drug and alcohol use is needed, it can be hard to get the ball rolling. This art exhibit is a way to start that conversation in a more casual. non-threatening way. Families can discuss what the different shoes mean to them and then branch that conversation out to include their own feelings about and experiences with peer pressure, addiction and recovery.
“In My Shoes” will be on display at the Milwaukee Public Library through April 26th.
My family and I will be heading down to check out the “In My Shoes” exhibit and I look forward to sharing my impressions with you. The display can be viewed at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Location in Milwaukee, located at 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. The display will continue on to additional cities throughout the Midwest after its stop in Milwaukee.
Rosecrance put together some additional resources to help with your discussions including this great pamphlet to help guide your conversation with your teens.
More About Rosecrance
Rosecrance is a leading provider of treatment services for substance use and mental health disorders. A private not-for-profit organization, Rosecrance serves more than 16,000 children, teens, adults and families each year. Rosecrance provides comprehensive care through inpatient and outpatient programs in Rockford, Illinois, and services at five satellite offices in Chicagoland and elsewhere in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The organization was founded in 1916 (More information at rosecrance.org).