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Art therapy can have a profound impact on the functioning of the brain. In fact, Eating Disorder Hope generated an article that states, “art therapy reaches a part of the brain traditional ‘talk’ therapy doesn’t access, and this type of therapy can be particularly effective in addressing body image”. Body image is a struggle many people deal with physically and mentally, therefore, finding an outlet to address one’s perspective for it can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on their mental health.
To understand how art therapy works, we must first discuss the definition of body image. As defined by Google, body image is how an individual perceives their attractiveness according to the beauty standard that is set by society. People with poor body image are people “who often… have feelings of self-hate, ineffectiveness, and lack of self-worth” (Bell, n.d). Because art therapy often occurs in a group setting, a person can share his/her art with a group of people, who are likely to give praise that the artist then internalizes (Bell, n.d.).
Having a community to share art is crucial in helping people struggling with body dysmorphia feel connected and understood. Organizations like Painted Brain, encourage contributors to share art, but more than that contributors are encouraged to open up about their lives in groups i.e. writing group and community meeting, etc. At arts therapy groups in the greater Los Angeles community, Painted Brain contributors are offered a safe space to decompress and get away from their problems for an hour or so. We hope that by offering these arts therapy groups, we are giving people the opportunity to express themselves.
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
As an organization, “Painted Brain creates lasting community-based solutions to mental health challenges and the impact of social injustice through arts, advocacy, and enterprise” (Painted Brain, 2018). This means that we hope to help retrain people to view the world as a less threatening place to exist in by exposing them to community based events such as arts therapy. Painted Brain is dedicated to our mission; therefore, we are in the process of crafting a legal and logistical framework for artists to sell their artwork on commission.
Under the tutelage of Ashley Payne, a local artist who is affiliated with Painted Brain, and has been of great service to the population served by Painted Brain through her work with the interns, Miles and Rashawn, on this project have made significant progress towards the goal of allowing contributors to sell their artwork in the boutique and for them to find part-time work there, as well. The three are working on improving the boutique at Painted Brain’s community center on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California; the improvements are so our contributors and the greater community are better served by Painted Brain and what we do.
The overall aspiration at Painted Brain is that we can connect what’s being done at the community center, in the boutique, and at art therapy sessions around Los Angeles. Together through our mission statement is to be as helpful as possible for our community and especially to contributors and artists at our groups. Bringing people who battle internally and externally with body image is part of our goal to create connectedness. Providing individuals with a place to better their mental health is only part of the process. Painted Brain hopes to have a dramatic positive impact on the community through its innovative combination of “arts, advocacy, and enterprise” (Painted Brain, 2018).
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