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Eskenazi Museum of Art organizes wellness pop-up event promoting art therapy


IU students participate in an art wellness pop up with some faculty from the Eskenazi Museum of Art on Nov. 18 in the Wendell W. Wright Education Library. Pop-Ups are put on by the art therapist at the museum periodically around campus. Izzy Myszak

A small table surrounded by eight chairs is bustling with action in the middle of the library. Elmer’s glue sticks with tangerine caps and multicolored safety scissors stand next to piles of rectangular pieces of brightly colored cardstock. Students and faculty chat among themselves while cutting paper into ornate shapes and arranging it together.

Each month, the Eskenazi Museum of Art organizes wellness pop-up events around campus to promote the reopening of the museum and the practice of art therapy. This month’s event took place in the School of Education Library on Monday.

“We are trying to bring a little bit of joy to people, really, and using art as a method for self care and encouraging people to take a break and do something that isn’t on a computer,” said Lauren Daugherty, the arts-based wellness experiences manager at the museum. “It’s really just an entry level. They are easy activities that people can do decently quickly and then go do their thing.”

Participants were instructed to cut out pieces of colored paper and design a collage depicting a place that brings them comfort and joy. The craft was inspired by Stuart Davis’ “Swing Landscape” painting featured in one of the museum’s galleries. The work of oil paint on canvas shows vivid hues of reds, blues, blacks and yellows that are pieced together to portray the waterfront in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Katie Thieme, a student, was studying in the library when she was approached by Daugherty who asked her if she wanted to partake in the activity. Plagued by the stress of school, Thieme and her friend eagerly said yes.

“I have not (tried art therapy before), this is my first time,” Thieme said while cutting hot pink and teal pieces of paper. “And so far, it’s going pretty well.”

According to the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association, art therapy can be used to treat anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma and relationship issues. It is not something that can cure long-standing issues, but acts as a way to guide healing and well-being. 

The museum also hopes the pop-up events will act as publicity for the free self-directed art studios it arranges for students every Thursday from 2:30-4 p.m.

”In the past we did scribble drawings at Kelley, we did affirmation trading cards over at Collins last month,” Daugherty said. “We try to bring something new every month, so if you want to, you can travel around with us all around campus.”

The pop-ups will take a hiatus for the month of December, but will start up again for the spring semester. Students can find the schedule for the wellness pop-ups and other museum events here.

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