I have been studying the impulse to give up on art making because I sometimes do it myself. If I don’t have a clear idea or if I am dissatisfied with the work I’m doing, I will go days without writing or making art.
The truth is art requires time and supplies and effort, not much else. It’s similar to other pursuits—like cooking, say. Art is great for communicating and making meaning, but it get’s saddled with nonsense like the potential to get famous.
I can’t help but attach my ego to art. I like to be recognized for my work. I like hearing people laugh when I read something I wrote. I like getting a lot of “likes” for a drawing I post on Facebook. I also fear of rejection. But these things shouldn’t stop me from doing the work I need to do.
Working as an artist and a writer in a hospital reminds me that art is something we do because we’re human. It’s no big deal. Making art sometimes produces anxiety and frustration because I attach certain expectations on it. I think art should look a certain way or say something profound. I am always filled with apprehension when I start working on a new story or drawing. I want it to be fantastic. Of course, the feelings quickly fade after I get started and become deeply involved in the process.
In the hospital, patients and their caregivers make art to distract themselves and overcome boredom. Most of them also have a lot on their minds. Making art can give them something enjoyable and constructive to do while they wait for the results of an MRI scan, for example.
In the hospital, making art helps people cope with medical crises. I see it every time I work with patients and families, most of whom show remarkable levels of resilience. If art is a useful tool for them, it makes sense that it can benefit all of us.
The Gainesville Sun, our local newspaper recently published this article about Art in Motion, a workshop for people dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders. My Arts in Medicine colleague, Madeline Austin runs the program. I volunteered for Madeline five years ago when I first came to Arts in Medicine. She has been an excellent teacher.
Here’s what Madeline told the Sun’s reporter, Nicole Deck about her program:
“This is just an avenue to explore one’s creativity,” Austin said. “It’s easy when you’re dealing with physical challenges to start to fall into the ‘why me’s.’ We celebrate the challenges that are before us.”
Dave Chynoweth, one of the participants describes using his challenges to make art:
“That’s what I hope to do here, kind of develop skills and let my tremor be in the art,” said Chynoweth, who attended a recent arts and crafts workshop called Art in Motion for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders and their caregivers. “If it’s part of the art, then so be it.”