Healing Art -- Brooks Working to Expand Access to Programs for Creative Therapy

By Young, Lesley | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), July 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Healing Art -- Brooks Working to Expand Access to Programs for Creative Therapy


Young, Lesley, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


Of the many exhibits that have adorned the walls of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the ones showcasing local work stand out for Karleen Gardner.

I will never forget the feeling I got from seeing the kids (from Youth Villages) come in here the day they had their own exhibit, said Gardner, the museum's curator of education. They felt validated, which is so important. It helps them to feel they can do great things.

In 2009, children from Memphis' Youth Villages engaged in the museum's Art Therapy Access Program, an outreach project that offers private museum tours, art-making sessions with a certified art therapist and an exhibit of the work created.

Since 2007, the museum has partnered with one organization per year, including Youth Villages, Alzheimer's Day Services of Memphis Veterans Medical Center, and the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program.

In April, the museum received a $44,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to enhance and expand its Art Therapy Access program.

We are thrilled. We already have a really successful art therapy program, but we would like to take it to the next level so we can have a greater impact on the community, Gardner said.

With this grant, the museum can extend its art therapy program over a two-year period working with Youth Villages, Memphis Veterans Medical Center and the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program.

Gardner and her team hope to personalize the program, giving up to 48 hours of art therapy to each participant and serving 20 people from each organization.

On Wednesday, Gardner and Brooks Museum art therapist Karen Peacock will be talking about the museum's Art Therapy Access Program at the American Art Therapy Association Conference in Savannah, Ga.

The Brooks program is one of a handful of art therapy programs in the Memphis area.

(Art therapy) is so important, and it's something not accessible to many people. Art therapists are spread pretty thin here, said Linley Schmidt, adult program coordinator for Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Making art therapy accessible to the people who need it is our goal.

I got back to Memphis nine years ago to work in the mental health field. …

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