Work to bring healing through artistic expression

Many artists believe that making art and being creative is therapeutic, calming the mind and relieving stress.

Expressing themselves in such a universal way allows artists to connect with others on a deeper level; colors, textures and form become a language, a “soapbox”, if you will, sharing beliefs, visions of beauty, worldly concerns and memories.

Even just looking at art can evoke the latter; the things forgotten in the rush of life and the pain it often brings. Ann Walker hopes to bring a renewed sense of wholeness, life and happiness to others through her particular forms of expression.

Although Walker has never exhibited or sold her work (this is one of her goals), she is an artist who is more interested in the process than the end product.

“Creativity is a vital force. Being creative connects us to ourselves and to something bigger than ourselves at the same time, ”she said. “Creativity is a manifestation of gratitude for our lives and the world around us. At the same time, it also allows the expression of emotions that we would often prefer to avoid such as guilt, shame, sadness and anger. When we can put these emotions on paper, they no longer eat away at us from within; we can let them go.

“It’s the power of the creative process. It doesn’t matter what something looks like at the end, it’s what happens in the process of creation, the expression of emotion, the personal ideas reached. This is how creativity changes lives.

Walker, 33, graduated from Mead High School in 1995 and continued her education at Lesley University, Cambridge University, where she earned a Masters in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling . She graduated but not yet registered as an art therapist; she has to work a certain number of hours, which she does as a “lady of the art”, coordinator of the Arts in Healing program at the Providence Center for Faith and Healing at the Sacred Heart Medical Center and at the Hospital for children.

As the “art lady” she rolls around in the “art cart”, bringing an array of supplies to the children at their bedside or in the playrooms of the children’s ward. Whether it’s bringing a guitar to someone who doesn’t have long to live or the means for a child to express themselves through a debilitating or life-threatening illness, the rewards are immense. Walker has witnessed many instances where sadness and pain have turned into joy and pleasure through the creative process.

Walker believes in the power of the art of healing. “The artistic process reaches the non-verbal areas of the brain and allows us to express and work on aspects of our life that get in the way,” she said. “When I work with Sacred Heart patients, I can observe how the creative process increases their sense of well-being.

The Arts in Healing program is funded by donors and grants. The program is funded until April. The program has applied for several grants, including the LIVESTRONG Creative Center grant.

November is Arts in Health Month. Walker worked with Children’s Hospital artist-in-residence Nicholas Sironka on a mural project that will be hung at the hospital to celebrate and honor the creative spirit.

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