Art and Healing


This fall I had the chance to visit a class taught by Dr. Esther Meek, a philosophy professor.    She invited me to lead a workshop to help her students think through the ways movement/dance/acting helps us to learn and also the healing it can bring to those who practice it.  

It was wonderful to connect and share with someone who comes from a different discipline and yet is open to how movement and our bodies help us understand our world.  And her words were a reminder that art and the work I do has a place in the process of healing both for individuals and communities.  (We worked through her chapter called Dance as Metaphysical Therapy from Loving to Know by Esther Lightcap Meek)   The workshop has stayed in my mind as I've reflected on the ways that art can be an avenue for healing.   And I keep thinking about this idea as I enter the new year. 

The truth is creating reminds me of my own weaknesses and pain.  The parts of myself that are often bruised and a bit beat up.  I have to remind myself that they have a place in art as well.  That some days the greatest comfort we can offer one another is to acknowledge the pain and cry with someone.  To say, "That must be hard. And I see you.  And I'm here."  And perhaps that is the kind of art that can help heal.  The art that helps us know that we aren't alone.  That someone else is walking with us in the midst.  

I'm in the middle of working on a new piece,  a collaboration with Lara Lynn Cottrill.   And I waver between excitement and fear.  (We are working on an adaptation of Song of Songs from the Old Testament, using acting and opera to bring the poetry to life.)  Song of Songs is this beautiful celebration of love and relationships, yet as I work on the piece I think of the broken relationships around me.  My own broken relationships and my friends.  And as I face my own broken pieces and failures I keep putting them back in the piece.  In hopes that these parts will help others who might say, "you too".  

And so I keep reminding myself that art can be a place of healing.  That it can be a place where all the little broken pieces can come and be used to create something new.  That something good can come from the pain and failures of our past and that art can be a place of renewal and regeneration.   Loneliness is hard.  And if in some small way my art can help others know that they aren't alone, then all the fears and wrestlings with a new piece are worth it.   And this practice of creating reminds me that even the broken hard parts of our lives can turn into something beautiful if we let them.  So here's to practicing courage.  To taking the hard parts and putting it in something good.  Here's to art that heals.  To art that reminds us that we aren't alone.   And heres to the small steps towards creating art that heals.