Attendees of Florida Hospital's Art in Therapy don't just draw and paint; they heal.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
They’re all taught the same skills, but what each participant takes away from Florida Hospital's monthly Art in Therapy program is as different as their reasons for attending.
Each month at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center's Cancer Care Center, at 224 Memorial Parkway, the Ormond Memorial Art Museum leads Art in Therapy classes, for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.
“We believe that the creative expression that it provides can help,” said Navreet Somai, a patient support services manager at the hospital. “It gives them an outlook to help them decrease stress."
But, as one of several cancer-therapy courses at the hospital, it also offers patients an outlet to meet those in similar circumstances.
“I’m an artist anyway,” said Flagler Beach’s Cindy Morse, a cancer survivor. “I know you can get a lot of feelings out through art.”
She said the class has been relaxing and helpful, after having beat cancer in December.
In the most recent class, instructor Sherrill Schoening taught some basics of shading and coloring, with colored pencils. Then, she took the 14 participants through a visual journey.
With their eyes closed, lights dimmed and soothing music playing, Schoening talked them through visualizations of floating through the sky into space, and then drifting back to earth to interact with the plants and animals.
After the visualization, participants sketched what they had imagined.
It’s that type of “feel-good art,” as Schoening describes it, that has made the class so popular among its participants. After approximately 18 months, Ormond Memorial Art Museum Director Susan Richmond said the most common critique of the class is that, clocking in at one hour, it's too short.
“It’s fun to do artwork,” said Ormond Beach’s Nora Walsh. “It’s not something that you have to do. You have to give yourself permission to do fun things like this.”
Walsh joined the class because she wanted to learn about Zentangle artwork, a previous program focus. But technique is secondary, she added; the important thing is that patients show up.
“That’s the thing,” Walsh said. “You just do it. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. You do it because it’s fun.”
Next month, participants will make joy journals,from photos, clippings, quotes or anything else to lift a reader's spirits.