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                                 l The term “therapy” can
invoke an array of images: the psy- chologist’s couch and notepad, candid group talk sessions and even pills of every color as prescription medica- tions from Adderall to Zoloft.
But an optic that has become in- creasingly more visible in therapeutic circles and scholarly literature is “art”— as painting, sculpture, pottery and other creative forms are recognized as another set of instruments in the medi- cine bag to soothe troubled minds.
Indeed, some people adhere to
the Scriptural mantra, “heal thyself,” and ease their ailments with a dose of creativity, no prescription required.
“There has been scientific stud-
ies that [show] that the creative art process can elevate your mood,” said Washington, DC-based board-certified art therapist and licensed professional counselor Martina Martin. “They can enhance your emotional well being.”
This edition of the Harlem Fine Arts Show Magazine recognizes the healing power of art by celebrating the fine vi- sual arts of the African diaspora while saluting Washington-area physicians whose hands practice the beneficent art of medicine.
Art therapy was introduced as a subset of the mental health industry of the West in the 1940s, but indigenous cultures across the globe have been using it through ritual expression, face painting and cultural attire for centu- ries. Much like what was portrayed in
the box office smash Black Panther, the benefits of art and its healing power are plentiful well-known.
“People have used art to express and heal themselves for aeons,” Martin said.
The evidence is striking: Research shows that the process of coloring alone reduces blood pressure, pain and stress.
Martin has had first-hand experience
through life’s ups and downs.
For muralist Johnny Tarajosu of
South Florida, researching a painting often turns out to be therapeutic.
He reflects on a time when a fan with cancer messaged him on Insta- gram to let him know how his work helped them through the trying time, “and it made me cry a bit ‘cause it’s like jeez, I didn’t know my art could have
The creation and appreciation of art is increasingly
“Much like what was portrayed in the box office smash Black Panther, the benefits of art and its healing power are well-known.”
working at a children’s hospital in DC where some of the youth are in the hemodialysis unit. She uses art to help the kids get through their regimens.
“Dialysis is a very, physically painful and draining process and so often the activities that I would bring would be activities that would aid in reducing their stress, but would also instill a sense of calm,” Martin said.
She would always give them a lot of coloring activities to do, sometimes involving the use of clay. It’s a great form of self-expression, she said, so if a person gets frustrated or angry they can take it out on a ball of clay instead of getting physical with someone.
Even artists use their trade to get
this impact,” he said.
“I was just using it as a tool of
expression to help me connect with people and I didn’t ever imagine that it would inspire people or help them get through certain circumstances,” he added
Because of its anecdotal and measurable success, art therapy is an exploding phenomenon.
There are coloring books for adults that are made solely for that purpose. It has even spawned trade organiza- tions such as the American Art Thera- py Association.
Washington, DC-based and board-certified art therapist Chan- dra Davis uses a mirroring effect

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