Making a Connection Between Wellness and the Arts

The ART Well at SNACOur Vision

ARTWELL NETWORK believes in the therapeutic connection between arts and wellness. We engage in a public art practice of creating Enchantments, while nurturing our liaisons with different cultural communities and welcoming all to participation.

Arts and Wellness a part of Every Day Life

Traditional societies have always known that the act of creation, creative expression, and making art is a necessary component of wellness. In many Indigenous societies, “art, music dance, and story telling are integral to a holistic approach to life, health and healing,”  within a worldview that does not separate mind from body, spirit from mind. Art therapy is practiced in the everyday stuff of life; in the daily communal business of making and decorating clothes, tools, housing and ceremonial objects, with mindfulness and respect.

Art Therapy as a field of study and practice is catching up to the traditional past of integrated therapeutic creativity, and beneficially influencing the wider field of health and wellness. In addition to the better known visual Art Therapy and standard Music Therapy practices, Story telling is making a comeback as a way to revisit and redefine trauma; harpists are a regular part of many hospice, coronary and cancer care centres (harp lessons as therapy are common enough to have engendered a thriving business in therapy harp manufacturing); the Arts Health and Wellness Project at McGill University offers “one-on-one peer support, workshops on stress and time management, yoga classes, and other therapeutic activities such as dance, comedy, and music” to students struggling to maintain balance in the face of stressful demands of university life.

Research supports the benefits of play and regular creative activity in day to day life, with studies pointing to the need for increased art programming in schools; a particular interest for Artwell Network.

Here in Winnipeg, the Seine River School division has committed to a five year pilot project for an arts school based out of the historical St Norbert Arts Centre. Students entering Grade 9 are chosen from across the division, based primarily on artistic talent in any discipline. They have an open classroom in the gallery space of the building and five acres of river enclosed forest, gardens and lawn bordering the Trappist Monastery Ruins provincial park.

Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools (“Arts keep kids in school”) brings together “the unique vision and energy of artists with the creative potential of students and teachers,” using programs customized for each classroom, while ArtsSmarts promotes integration of art into core curriculum.

Beyond school and in the public space, Artists in Community and Winnipeg Arts Council’s WithArt supports community groups in collaboration with professional artists who actively engage the community in art projects and artistic experience. In the same spirit, Winnipeg’s downtown is filled with unexpected sculptures, giant marbles, and decorated pianos. Many days a walk through Portage Place mall is accompanied by the music of people who have no other place to make music.

Artwell Network initiated Enchantments; small scale events and experiences open to everyone. Create, Connect, Cannoli was the first of these, followed by mandalas, dance, Release Your Creativity workshops, and house concerts with blackout poetry playtime. Although there is much work (and play!) to be done before our world is again a holistic society that integrates and honours art and creativity as vital to health and well-being, there is a hopeful upswing of holistic art therapy practice and a deepening of the art-wellness connection.

Artwell Network is delighted to be part of the change we want to see!

Arts, Wellness and Ecology

It is important to us that we learn about other arts and wellness organizations and work together to share awareness and new practices. Here in Winnipeg there’s a group working towards development of an Arts & Wellness EcoVillage.
Find out more!