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Art as therapy

/ 04:35 PM November 20, 2013

Thanks to our artist-leaders, especially Radel Paredes and Palmy Pe-Tudtud, a specialist in art therapy is coming to Cebu soon to give local artists inputs on how art-making can be used as therapy for the victims of the Bohol earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda. It is part of an initiative to involve local artists in the relief and rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas.

Last Sunday, they opened a booth at the parking lot of the Redemptorist Church. There they sold art works donated by various artists. All proceeds go to the earthquake victims in Bohol. The art works were sold at surprisingly low prices, giving the public a unique opportunity to own art done by some of the best known artists here. This goes with the sure knowledge they also get to help the victims of recent calamities which hit the region including Typhoon Yolanda.

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The issue of psychological help for victims of calamities has been mentioned in various articles already. These victims have gone through traumatic experiences especially involving the loss of homes and loved ones. These often lead to depression, a feeling of isolation and emotional distress that may have both immediate and long-term effects on victims especially children.

Adults have the better capacity to talk about their experiences and what they feel after those experiences. Children have an inherently more difficult capacity to do this. They will have the lesser capacity to recall, understand and accept what they had gone through. They have the lesser capacity to resolve emotional issues and there is always the possibility that these will have a long term psychological impact on them. Thus, getting them to express these in drawings and art will help. Beyond this, there is also the idea that they are not left alone with their loss, their traumas and their “sadness.”

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Few in Cebu have direct experience in this field. Thus Radel and Palmy’s initiative in this area is both welcome and necessary. Art therapy is a field of knowledge which should grow in Cebu from hereon. It also identifies a field for local artists to be involved in. As one artist put it, “They do not have so much money to give but they have artworks and talent.” Here is a project which capacitates them to contribute what they do have to aid the victims.

He heard of this project first through Radel Paredes’ Sunday column in this paper. Thus, he drove his bike to the Redemptorist that Sunday morning. Indeed, the booth was there and so he asked Radel if he and his children could help make quick portrait sketches for a small fee? And sure enough Radel welcomed their participation.

Seven-year old Elias is not yet ready for portrait sketches so he just did drawings all afternoon. On the other hand, his 14-year-old daughter Linya keeps a small sketchpad that she takes with her to school. The sketchpad now contains portrait-sketches of her classmates and teachers. Would she be interested to go with his Papa and do sketches for the victims? She quickly said yes. And so they were there for the Sunday afternoon masses.

Immediately after the Mass, the church-goers came to the booth, bought art works and had their portraits done. They were a surprisingly big number and so all the artists soon found themselves doing sketches all the way until it got too dark to draw. Those who sat for the drawings were happy with the results. And so the artists. All considered, it turned out to be a happy successful affair. It was certainly something which called for a repeat. Radel and Palmy were not yet too sure about next Sunday. But this would be likely considering how much still needs to be done for the earthquake and typhoon victims.

On the other hand, Linya and her Papa have been going through a period of listlessness recently. This was characterized by the question: Have they given enough of their time and money for the victims? At one conversation, Linya and Elias concluded that they needed to be richer if they wanted to help some more. Their Papa could only smile. Here finally was therapy for their listlessness, an answer to their questions.

In a way they had come across a project which offered them the chance to help some more given the present limitations of their resources. Why not continue doing portrait-sketches for the victims at some public place somewhere, perhaps even the malls? For them it was something worth thinking about.

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TAGS: art therapy, column, opinion
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