Hannah Morel ’20 shares experience and impact of art therapy with others at 100th Monkey Studio in Portland. OR

Spending the summer interning with 100th Monkey Studio is an incredible inside-look at the various benefits art therapy can provide. With much of the art therapy we utilize, the emphasis is on the process, not the product. Having the freedom to create with no end-goal in mind removes some of the stress often involved with one’s art, and gives a sweet self-permission to let the artist and art medium move in whichever direction necessary. On a typical day at the studio, interns interact one-on-one with individuals of all backgrounds, facilitating a studio space that is safe and supportive for all to create. The studio offers multiple “sessions”, all varying in participants and prompt. For some sessions, we work with a group called Full Life creating art with adults who have disabilities. These sessions are often the happiest part of the day. Getting to find the exact materials or images participants want, or helping individuals discover new techniques or materials to work with is a particularly happy form of “work” to be involved with.

Another session interns participate with, is one on Mindfulness. These evening art classes are for adults only, where either a quote or meditation is shared by the group prior to creating any art. This space is forgiving and vulnerable, and allows for art to aid in whatever individual process is desired. For myself, personally, these sessions have enabled a genuine creative time where there are no wrong answers. Sometimes the finished product looks nothing like I intended- in fact, the more meaningful pieces are usually covered by the time we’re done- it’s the layers of creative process that heal in their own individual ways.

This studio is designed to encourage and support, but to push as well. Individuals are asked to step outside their comfort zone, as well as be kind to themselves. Art made in these sessions can be as meaningful or symbolic as individually desired, but first and foremost, it’s significance is in creating it to begin with.

I believe art is one of the most intimate parts of the self we put on display, and sharing such a creative process is an absolute privilege. Moving forward, I intend to see how else I can incorporate things like mindfulness and flexibility, in both art and life’s general motion. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience this space, and I would like art to be more accessible to all. As an Environmental Studies and Art major at Whitman, I look forward to bringing these learned practices back, and I’m excited to see what else is to come.

Experiences like Hannah Morel’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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