Monday, May 27, 2013

Art is Moving!

Not everyone gets involved with formal art therapy, but using art as a means of therapeutic or community expression for art's sake is a common outlet for people to get in touch with their expressive self.  Lauren Odell Usher, one of the co-founders of the NPO "Art is Moving!", brings art to the people in the community so they can discover its benefits, for free.  She shared some thoughts with me about art that I will pass on to you.  As an artist, you might also want to get involved!

I am an artist. I believe it is my job to serve my community. 

How do I serve that community? 

There are a number of different ways, from creating beauty to instigating positive change to creating inspiration. I choose to serve my community by providing them the opportunity to discover the positive impact art can have on their lives. My hope is that every person I interact with will bring more art into their lives in some way or another. 

 Why do I do this? 

Plain and simple. I believe in art. From my own experience, from stories I’ve heard from other people, and from observing the shift in people while they create art. Art does something to us. It opens us up to a whole new part of ourselves. It opens us up to our community. It gives us space to breath. 

How do I do this? 

 I started Art is Moving with my collaborator, Lisa Rasmussen, in 2008. Art is Moving was born because we wanted to create a “safe” place for everyone to engage with art. We both could recall several conversations with “non-artists” that involved the other person saying things like, “I just don’t understand art” or “I can’t do it, I’m not talented enough.” Both Lisa and myself believe that art is for everyone and so we started an open dialog through our blog to stop the stigma that art was just for a few and that it was only about talent. 

The Positive Impact 

 I’m happy to report that in the last 5 years through programs like Art Break Day, Art is Moving has served over 20,000 individuals in 7 different communities. We’ve spoken with hundreds of people who, after creating art at one of our tables, expressed interest in continuing art making as a daily practice. After one sitting participants can already feel the impact art can have on them. It’s relaxing, meditative, expressive, healing, and a great alternative way to communicate. 

Where do we go from here?

There are still 3.9 million children who have no access to art class in school (source). That’s a shameful number. As an artist it is up to me to serve my community and make sure art is a part of that community. I will keep on putting art opportunities into the public sphere until that number hits zero. 

 - Lauren Odell Usher 
Co-Founding Director, Art is Moving 
Make sure you take an ART BREAK on September 6th!

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