The Art4Healing initiative was developed by Laurie Zagon 25 years ago to help children and families deal with issues such as grief, loss, trauma and more.
Students and community members use association, connecting color to a feeling, to respond to a series of prompts that are led by certified facilitators: Alissa Tertichny and Kate Dorrough.
Tertichny, KSU Case Manager and Counselor, started facilitating these thematic two-hour-long events to help participants express their emotions in an unrestricted, safe environment.
These events take place on the second floor of the Zuckerman Museum in an open area with lots of windows and natural light. They serve as moments where participants can get away from perfectionism and indulge in a spontaneous loose form of self-expression.
“I personally believe that art is a profound healing tool and I wanted to find a way to offer this experience to our students,” Tertichny said.
The Art4Healing method used in the workshops, however, should not be confused with art therapy, the difference being that the facilitators do not offer interpretations or any actual diagnosis.
Instead, the workshops are intended for students to freely explore their inner feelings. While the whole process can be insightful and cathartic for many, in the end, participants have the option to share as much or as little they want.
“I especially like that the A4H workshops do not require students to come into the counseling office to have a therapeutic experience,” Tertichny said.
Dorrough assisted Tertichny with the workshops in 2020 and a year later pursued her certification so that she could conduct the workshops as well.
“I fell in love with how Art4Healing gives people a space to express themselves through non-verbal means,” Dorrough said. “These workshops allow people to tap into their intuitive spirits and let colors, energy and paint ‘speak’ for their emotional experiences.”
Those nonverbal means include three distinct activities: a brief warm-up, a signature painting and a cool-down exercise that are done with acrylic colors on a canvas.
After the session, participants can take home completed paintings that combine their abstract art with their intuitive feelings.
Dorrough’s upcoming event is titled “The Gift,” where participants will be focusing on the present alongside the future as they contemplate their chosen majors or employments.
Each student has made a decision by picking a major (some undeclared), so this workshop will explore that mixture of feelings ranging from excitement and hopefulness to uncertainty, anxiety and stress.
Tertichny’s previous Art4Healing workshop in February was titled “My Body,” in connection to the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
The main emphasis of this workshop was body healing and body image in response to this serious mental health condition.
These workshops are free for all KSU students and community members. Supplies are provided, and no art experience is required.