How Art Heals: 5 Ways That Art Makes Everything Better

3 min read

Education & Career Trends: March 2

Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

  • Article by Eric Maisel, published on

Art fulfils many functions and means many things. No one needs to explain to a child why he or she should draw: children want to draw. To a child, art-making is as natural as eating or breathing. As we get older, our relationship with art shifts, changes, and becomes rather more complicated. Art begins to function in all sorts of ways, from helping marketers sell products to telling the truth to power.

Today’s blog points out one of art’s most important functions, as a healing agent.

Here are just a few of the many ways that art heals:

1. Art Lowers Anxiety

Just looking at art can be healing. For centuries, many cultures have used the mandala form as a tool for contemplation and prayer—letting the mind stop in one spot while the natural forces and chaos of the world swirl around you.

2. Art Generates New Solutions

Even the simplest art, like a Japanese enso, is layered with complexity. It’s like William Blake’s idea of “the world in a grain of sand.” The more you look, the more ideas reveal themselves, whether the art is simple or complex. It takes time and patience to find, examine, and consider the endless options art offers.

3. Art (Both Making It and Looking at It) Can Have a Role in Therapy

Psychologist Cathy Malchiodi, in her book The Art Therapy Sourcebook, writes that art therapy is “a modality for self-understanding, emotional change, and personal growth.” Yes, focused attention on therapeutic benefits is helpful. But what about most of us who don’t ever go to an actual art therapist? Can art help us? Many artists will tell you that making art is therapeutic and calming, that it helps you calm distracting, negative, and unhelpful thoughts, and that it gets your hands and body working as opposed to only your mind.

4. Art Helps Us Deal with Difficult Realities

Poetry is consoling in times of unrest and pain, illness and grief. The poet Richard Wright wrote more than 4,000 haiku during his last year of illness in Paris. Wright’s daughter Julia said he continued “to spin these poems of light out of the gathering darkness.” Artworks like that and serves like that.

5. Art Builds Safe, Meditative, Imaginative Spaces

Making art can break open and free trauma. For me, walking and beachcombing calm my mind’s storm. And then I paint to have a similar experience or visit galleries or art online to experience how other artists have translated their emotions and observations into healing messages. In these ways, I experience a pure connection to the imagination, the land where everything is okay for a little while.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet

Careers in Translation and Interpreting

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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