The Healing Power of Art

Allison stands and smiles next to a waterway on campus.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Allison posing on the bridge in between the business hall and the engineering hall.

The arts are present throughout our lives each and every day. According to Roberston (2019), the arts can be broken down into five main categories: the performing arts, visual arts, literature, culture activities and online arts.

Research studies have shown that when an individual immerses themselves in the world of art, they may experience positive effects on their health and overall wellbeing. 

Rowan Art Gallery.

One of the most influential parts of the arts is that an individual is given a chance to share a personal story or experience in a creative manner. In many cases an individual may have a difficult time explaining an upsetting event through the use of words to others. As a result, by creating the piece of art, an individual is given an opportunity to reflect about their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a way that works best for them (Horenstein, 2010; Henry Ford Health System Staff, 2018).

An individual may also be able to track their personal progress of growth and healing by visually identifying how the tones or images reflected in their art have changed over time. For example, during the beginning of the personal reflection an individual may draw an image of a dying tree if they are experiencing a great deal of stress. Although through time they may learn to cope with this stress and their art may transform from the image of a dying tree into a blooming tree.

Furthermore, individuals may also be able to seek healing by connecting with another person’s work of art. Because of the fact that art can tell a story someone might be able to relate to another person’s experience and feel empowered by it. 

Work by Studio Art alumna Leann Carlson.

Along with offering the power of healing through storytelling, art can lead to a variety of improvements in physical health Specifically, studies have found that by listening to music an individual may experience less severe symptoms of nausea, drowsiness, or lack of appetite (Robertson, 2019). By actively creating music or other forms of art, an individual may experience additional benefits such as reduced levels of pain and anxiety (Roberston, 2019). Additionally, art can allow individuals to develop better skills with memory, attention, and gaining higher self esteem (Horenstein, 2010; Robertson, 2019). All of these benefits can lead to better daily functioning and a higher quality of life.

Allison sits by the Engineering Pond.

Overall, this article has only scratched the surface of the variety of benefits that art can bring towards health and wellbeing. As mentioned earlier, art appears in a variety of diverse forms such as the performing arts, visual arts, literature, culture activities and online arts (Roberston, 2019). Some of the key benefits that art can introduce is healing through storytelling, physical symptom benefits, and the development of skills such as memory, attention and self esteem (Horenstein, 2010; Robertson, 2019). By becoming immersed in the world of art an individual will be able to experience the power of healing through art.

References:

Henry Ford Health System Staff. (2018, May 29). The healing power of art. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.henryford.com/blog/2018/05/healing-power-art

Horenstein, S. H. (2010). Promoting Values Through the Arts. Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online, 8(1/2), 37–56.

Robertson, S. (2019, November 12). The arts play an important role in improving well-being, according to a who report. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20191112/The-arts-play-an-important-role-in-improving-well-being-according-to-a-WHO-report.aspx

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Story by: Allison Niemiec, Rowan Global student in master’s in higher education-administrative track program

Photography by: Jabreeah Holmes, senior radio/TV/film major

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