January 16, 2003
Grant helps rehabilitation patients learn expression through art
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Of the many artists with disabilities in Mississippi, most of them discovered their talents well after their disability. For some, it was through sheer luck.
No more. Through a $10,000 grant from VSA Arts of Mississippi, patients at Methodist Rehabilitation Center will have the opportunity to learn how to express themselves through art.
It’s not art therapy, says Sam Clark of Jackson. It’s creative expression.
Clark and Jerry Hymel of Raymond will teach classes at Methodist Rehab during a10-week period. Hymel will teach mosaics while Clark focuses on watercolor and charcoal paintings.
The twice-weekly classes begin Jan. 28 and run to April 3.
“It’s exciting to introduce something fun like art to someone who’s maybe never thought about being an artist,” said Clark, who teaches ceramics to special education students in Jackson Public Schools.
It’s the first arts in health care program in Mississippi, said Leslie Scott, state program coordinator for VSA Arts of Mississippi. “It’s exciting for us to see this happen,” she said. “We’re offering people a new way to express themselves.”
For 15 years, the Goodwill Art Show has been held at Methodist Rehab to promote awareness of the skills and abilities of disabled artists throughout Mississippi. Last year’s show featured 300 pieces of artwork – more than double the entries from 1998.
At the hospital, the therapeutic recreation program will be responsible for getting patients interested in and attending the classes, said program director Ginny Boydston.
Art has always been a valuable tool for expression in the disabled community, Boydston added. “It’s proof to everyone that even if someone’s body is injured, the mind can still make very beautiful things.”
Besides expression, art can also be a great coping tool for patients dealing with crippling injuries, Clark said. “Art relieves stress and it’s a relaxing thing to do after a long day of therapy,” he said. “I think everyone is going to enjoy this.”
The concept has a lot of potential, Boydston added. “I think it’s going to be great for our patients because of what they’ll be getting. They get a trained artist from our community, instruction and equipment.”
There’s also the opportunity for patients to enter the work they create in class in the Goodwill contest.
“We hope that artists coming into the hospital will be able to stimulate more response from patients and get them to enter their work in the Goodwill contest,” Scott said.
“And who knows?” added Boydston. “We may discover a great new artist who would have otherwise never known they had the talent.”
For more information:
Classes to teach disabled art skills at Methodist Rehabilitation Center | The Clarion-Ledger