September 24, 2016
Some people say laughter is the best form of medicine; however, for many, healing comes through another medium: art. From painting to writing, dancing to composing, students have found art to be the best way to relieve stress and to concoct creativity.
Visual arts, for example, such as painting and drawing, improve a human’s psychological well-being through not only creating, but also seeing various colors. The color blue has a calming effect known to even lower blood pressure, while the color yellow is known to heal depression and negative thoughts. Cells in the brain called mirror neurons are responsible for the body’s response to witnessing such events and actions, like the reaction to color. When a person observes a particular action, the information received flows inward from the image before one’s eyes to the control centers in the brain. This process is what makes that Mona Lisa smile so engaging; this is what makes Mozart’s compositions so euphorically pleasing. Junior Jolene Landers describes the meaning of her color choices when she paints.
“For me, I feel like warm colors are really happy, and cold colors are more desolate. Aesthetically-wise, I prefer warm colors because they display stronger emotions. Cold colors feel apathetic and empty,” said Landers.
Other artistic forms — composing, dancing, writing — have a similar effect. Expressing actions as opposed to processing them serves as a powerful stress-reliever. Junior Lydia Hall reflects on her musical talent, one that guides her to a more positive place.
“The stress goes down a notch or two. I guess it is a very positive feeling. It doesn’t make me mad or anything. I’m obviously happy, and sometimes when I’m in that zone, and I’m in the middle of playing a piece, I feel accomplished and great,” said Hall.
Dancing also allows some students to step into a more serene setting. Junior Camille Howard located her passion in that form of expression. She discovered that whether it was memorizing her difficult ballet combinations or improving upon her distinct contemporary routines, a sense of patience and a peace of mind coupled every result.
“It helps me escape into a world of just movement, where you feel free. It makes you forget about what’s happening, and then when you’re done dancing, you’re back in the real world,” said Howard.
In an environment where students can not only express their thoughts and emotions, but also those of others—either real or imaginary—writing has proven itself to be another manner of eliminating a negative state of mind. Junior Cole Lederer muses on his expressive pastime.
“I found [writing] as a way of just getting out my emotions. I like writing about other people’s lives and making up what happens to them,” said Lederer.
And so, though a myriad of students believe they need to have the skills to compose works comparable to those of Beethoven or to write stories like those of J.K. Rowling, true art does not have a measure of talent or skill, but rather individuality and originality. There are students who turn to art with this aim, but it has been seen that anyone can benefit from the meditative qualities of art therapy.