Art Therapy Workshop: An Unforgettable Experience

Our participants were well-supplied as they started their experience with body mapping! Image description: a table of art supplies

Our participants were well-supplied as they started their experience with body mapping!

Image description: a table of art supplies

Clare Hickie, Special Projects Team Co-Director  clarehickie@outrunthestigma.ca

Outrun the Stigma was thrilled to host its first ever community workshop on Saturday June 24th at the University of Calgary. Our organization partnered with registered Art Therapist Heather Stump to create a custom Body Mapping workshop to explore our bodies, and our creative connection with mental health.

Participants started off by tracing their outlines in a variety of positions. Image description: two people with large sheets of white paper trace their outlines in paint and crayon.

Participants started off by tracing their outlines in a variety of positions.

Image description: two people with large sheets of white paper trace their outlines in paint and crayon.

The day started off with a chat about Outrun the Stigma and what we do. We talked about our work in the community and how we are working to change perceptions of mental health and end stigma both on university campuses and in the community throughout Canada.

After a brief warm-up activity, we then heard from Heather, who shared her insights on art therapy and introduced us to the idea of a ‘Body Map’, a creative art piece in which the artist traces parts (or all) of their body and works to creatively express their experiences, their story, and their feelings on the body map. Our participants and facilitators quickly got to work creating our own body maps.

The moment that participants started creating their maps, our team was struck by the level of teamwork that participants immediately started. Participants, many of whom had never met one another before, helped one another trace bodies, provide ideas, and support one another through the process. At the beginning of the session many of the body maps looked somewhat similar, as participants traced outlines of their bodies in a variety of positions. As the workshop progressed, however, each individual body map took on its own life.

The process of creating our body maps was different for each participant, and for the facilitators of the workshop who took part. For some it was a calming and relaxing experience; for others, it was an opportunity to express many emotions, feelings, thoughts, and memories, both good and bad. What made the process so incredible was the atmosphere of solidarity, kindness, and support that our participants worked to create. During the creative process and our closing circle, participants openly discussed their own experiences with mental health, and their support for one another. The experience was both moving and inspiring.

Participants engaged in a variety of creative forms, including using paints, oil and chalk pastels, marker, crayon, and other mediums to express themselves. Image description: a participant paints a blue outline of their body on a large white sheet of paper against a red wall.

Participants engaged in a variety of creative forms, including using paints, oil and chalk pastels, marker, crayon, and other mediums to express themselves.

Image description: a participant paints a blue outline of their body on a large white sheet of paper against a red wall.

 

We want to thank all of our participants for engaging in this workshop, and for the level of care, support, and kindness that each one of them brought. We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our volunteer Art Therapist, Heather Stump. Heather volunteered her time, energy, and expertise to this cause, and we are incredibly thankful to have had her as a partner on this project. To learn more about Heather and her work, please visit her website at heatherstump.com.

We are excited to offer more workshops in the coming months. Please stay connected with us via social media @outrunthestigma and via our website and mailing list to hear more about upcoming events!

Are you interested in writing for Outrun the Stigma? Send us an email at stories@outrunthestigma.ca to learn how to get involved. Authors of all backgrounds and experience levels are welcome to apply.

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