Art for the Journey
Healing through Creative Expression
Our fall 2020 art show looks a little different this time, as we follow recommended guidelines regarding gatherings in small spaces. We hope you are able to enjoy the more than 100 pieces of art that were submitted in this online gallery. You’ll also see that we’ve included several videos about the Art for the Journey organization as well as a few others that relate to populations of artists that are featured in the show.
Art for the Journey was founded by a small group of artists in the Richmond, Virginia area who discovered the power of art to transform their life experience and who simply wanted to share that with others. The sense of partnership and mutual support that defined their original group is now being shared with a growing community of volunteers who are spreading the impact of art throughout their communities.
Art for the Journey began as program for painting lessons, but instructors soon noticed that many people were not participating solely for instruction, but as a way of stepping back from a busy life or experiencing peace and perspective during a difficult time. Today the group strives to spark creativity in underprivileged communities and inspire individuals to experience the joy of self-expression. The mission of Art for the Journey is to overcome barriers to transform lives through art.
In the sections below, you’ll find the works of three distinct groups of artists: Women in Prison, Veterans, and Alzheimer’s patients. We invite you to scroll through each gallery and watch the accompanying videos.
[David]: This is David Trinkle, Associate Dean for community and culture at the virginia tech carilion school of medicine. And we're doing another virtual visit with our current art show “Art for the Journey.” part of our show features women in prison and how art and creativity has helped them cope with their situation and life with us today is Jennifer Hollingsworth Austin. Tell us a little bit about your programs there and and your experience.
[Jennifer]: We have several enrichment programs that we do, two of which are art based. One is a beginning drawing class that I do for the general population and then the other is a weekly class that I do with the mental health pod, the guys that are in the mental health unit. We have good relationships with it with the inmates. We do the projects with them so we're not just you know, barging in and saying “hey you know here’s some clay, now bare your soul” and it is so we have some skin in the game as well so they see us, you know, trying different things that may work or may not work and in creating right along side of them.
The inmates love it. The way I see it is part of my job is to help them battle boredom and frustration and possibly despair, and so by offering them a way to express themselves is very very helpful. With the general population I'm only allowed to work with six people at a time. And it’s not unusual when I do a sign up for me to get 50 or 60 people who want to be in the class and then I have to do a lottery so I do as many of those as I'm able to. And then with the mental health unit, everything I do is based on cognitive behavioral therapy - that's what they use - and it's a 12-week curriculum and so I spend a lot of time helping the guys with reflection and doing projects that hopefully let them access some insights on themselves, build confidence. Everybody seems to enjoy it and one of the things that I like most is how adventurous the art students are that even if they think “well, I can't draw circle” they quicky find out they can and no matter what they do, their their skills as an artist will improve.
Women in Prison Art Show
The first program delivered by Art for the Journey in 2014 was to the women who are incarcerated at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women in Goochland County, Virginia. In 2019 a special project where women were asked to both paint about and write about their experience through their incarceration was not only introspective, but conveys the depth of their individual experiences in such a way that the community can be educated and inspired by their works.
Even before all the students arrived, this studio stirs with excitement. Adult learning with childlike giddiness but when paint is poured and blank canvases go up, these artists get down to business. The assignment: a landscape of the James River.
Each brush stroke moves them closer to healing. These painters live with physical cognitive and emotional scars they are veterans at McGuire VA Medical Center. Volunteers with art for the journey conduct the class every month.
Cindy Paullin: We all come together we celebrate and we share this experience.
Executive director Cindy Paulin says creating provides a much-needed escape for these military men and women.
Cindy: Somehow it quiets the thoughts you have that you came in with and you enter into a place that's really pleasant.
Milton Wells served 10 years in the US Army. A liver transplant and stroke derailed his military career but not his attitude.
Milton: It gives me confidence that I can paint, and just self-confidence in myself.
This is Milton's first experience with Art for the Journey. It's already paying dividends.
Milton: [inaudible] things to do for your mind, that's the main part so I don't focus on that outcome but more [inaudible].
Even before the paint dries these budding artists observe a spot for the next class
Volunteer: We see a huge boost in self-esteem and it carries over after they leave this room
They may not be confused with da Vinci or Rembrandt but these veterans are proving we all have a masterpiece inside.
Milton: try again next time and hopefully I can do better this is a good time so I'm satisfied.
I'm Dave Trinkle, the associate dean for community and culture at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and this another one in a series of virtual events describing the current art show up at the medical school and the different populations that were targeted. And today we're going to talk about alzheimer's patients and how creativity can really go a long way into easing calming and creating a nice environment and relationship with these patients especially in the early stages of their memory loss. So with me today is Annette Clark. She is a family services director of the Alzheimer's Association of central and western Virginia chapter. And we also have Taylor Lee, who is a care consultant lead with the early stage program. We'll start a little bit with just a general description of what is the Alzheimer's Association here in Roanoke and what do they do and who they serve.
[Annette]: Well, I thank you so much for having us join you today. The Alzheimer's Association is actually nationwide so regardless of where the individual is living, there is a me in their community, so I would encourage everyone to visit our website alz.org where caregivers or individuals that want to learn more about the disease - or maybe they're living with the disease - can go on and find up-to-date information about the latest research, they can find great educational programs that are that are available virtually right now, they can learn about the 10 signs from there, or understanding alzheimer's and dementia, communication, behaviors, all of those programs are right there for individuals to view from the safety of their own home.
Another thing that the Alzheimer's Association is very well known for is our 24/7 365 day out of the year helpline. And what that looks like Dave is, you know, a caregiver can call us at three o'clock in the morning on a holiday and they're going to get a master's level clinician that can problem solve with them, talk about what's going on within their own situation, give them things to put in their toolkit to help them manage the situation, and then on the flip side, sometimes it's just a caregiver who needs that listening ear, who needs someone to acknowledge this is the worst day of their life, and this is not what they signed up for.
[Taylor Lee]: My role at the Alzheimer's Association is to work directly with caregivers, persons living with dementia, and then also to provide education to the public, and the way that I do that specifically with persons living with dementia is that I work very closely with them to provide them with support groups, so it gives both caregiver and persons living with dementia a chance to kind of connect with their peers or others that are going through the same situation as them and then it also provides a level of friendship that allows them to connect even outside of support groups. We also try to work to find creative opportunities for them to kind of socialize, build some of that stimulization, so that they can maintain their skill but also walk away with a meaningful activity.
We have several different programs that are kind of centered around art. Just in the Richmond area, we have partnered with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where we have had several tours where we have trained the docents there and we have taken small tours with persons living with dementia and their care partners to view some of the art and allow them to share their experience or what they see, and again it allows them to communicate with not without having to deal with a lack of confidence and having the right or wrong answer. So that's always great, and then those tours usually end with a way that they can socialize afterwards. We've also partnered with the Visual Arts Center in Richmond and that allows them to see another exhibit of art and then afterwards they can participate in art making that kind of coincides with the exhibit that they were able to see and then lastly that ends with some more socialization. And then we also have other programs like Art in the Making, where it allows us to kind of put together some formal education program but then it allows them to express themselves through a way of art making. Those are three of just a few of the things that we do but we have definitely seen that that is a way to connect with them and then also a way for them to connect with us.
Additional art work submitted for show
Art for the Journey provides a “Paint-In retreat as a part of a “Physicians Self-Care” elective course at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. These art works are created by participants and medical professionals.
I created this set of three paintings to depict how food, nature, and social strife can adversely affect public health.
The first painting shows various vegetables contained within the outline of a human heart. This is meant to depict food insecurity, an issue that affects nearly 11% of American households. Food insecurity is defined as lack of access to quality foods and it can have serious consequences such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It can also cause familial stress and increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
The second painting shows a tranquil landscape soon to be overcome by storm clouds looming ahead. This is meant to depict climate change, a man-made issue that has already had serious public health consequences. Climate change has led to an increase in respiratory and cardiovascular disease, premature deaths from weather events, and decreased access to food and water.
The third painting depicts the names of black victims of police brutality. According to one statistic, 100,000 were sent to the emergency room as a result of police violence in 2013. Police brutality not only has physical consequences but mental as well, with black and Hispanic people more likely to have PTSD as a result of targeted stop-and-frisk programs.
These three paintings are not meant to be viewed separately just as these issues are not separate but intertwined. Black individuals and people of color are more likely to be affected by food insecurity and are more likely to face the negative consequences of climate change. As health care providers it's up to us to recognize these issues as public health concerns and to involve ourselves in these issues by learning about them so that we can identify and address how our patients may be affected. Ultimately, it is up to use our privilege to break the cycle of these intertwined issues.
These are the names of victims of police brutality that were unable to be contained within the painting: Anthony Ashford; Alonzo Smith; Tyree Crawford; India Kager; La' Vante Biggs; Michael Lee Marshall; Jamar Clark; Richard Perkins; Nathaniel Harris Pickett; Benni Lee Tignor; Miguel Espinal; Michael Noel; Kevin Matthews; Bettie Jones; Quintonio Legrier; Keith Childress Jr.; Janet Wilson; Randy Nelson; Antronie Scott; Wendell Celestine; David Joseph; Calin Roquemore; Dyzhawn Perkins; Christopher Davis; Marco Loud; Peter Gaines; Torrey Robinson; Darius Robinson; Kevin Hicks; Mary Truxillo; Demarcus Semer; Willie Tillman; Terril Thomas; Sylville Smith; Alton Sterling; Philando Castile; Terence Crutcher; Paul O'Neal; Alteria Woods; Jordan Edwards; Aaron Bailey; Ronell Foster; Stephon Clark; Antwon Rose Ill; Botham Jean; Pamela Turner; Dominique Turner; Atatiana Jefferson; Christopher Whitfield; Christopher McCorvey; Eric Reason; Michael Lorenzo Dean; Breonna Taylor; George Floyd
My inspiration for this painting came to me as a third year medical student while on my OB/GYN rotation. I was able to observe and assist in my first cesarean section (also known as a C-section), a procedure where a child is delivered by cutting through the wall of the abdomen and uterus. This was a particularly meaningful experience for me because I was delivered by this method due to complications with vaginal delivery. This innovative medical procedure allowed me to live, and here I was 26 years later helping provide life to someone else in the same way. To emphasize this point, I painted the arms of the physicians and assistants each emerging from an individual C-section cavity. Additionally, I added a surgical glove to the right hand of the newly delivered baby, highlighting that child's potential to one day become a provider and help others in the same way. I therefore thought it was appropriate to title this painting, 'The Next Generation.'