The recent tragic and brutal death of Harley Lawrence in Berwick, Nova Scotia was very disturbing to say the least , made my heart ache and sick. It wasn't only because it was Harley. I did not know the man. But, because I have known many like him as a worker with troubled youth at risk, post-psychiatric patients, mentally challenged folks and working with both adult and young offenders.
I understand with first handed experience, these struggles, after seeing my late father, brother and husband throughout the years, suffer with addiction, mental illness and living on the street.
This kind of tragedy, sad to say, does not surprise me. It often makes me feel helpless, and sorrowful because of the kind of society and world we live in. The harrowing trials that so many marginalized folks experience, falling through the cracks within a broken system and government that seems to heartlessly chew and spit people out, especially if you don't have the wherewith all to advocate for yourself or no one to give you hope.
I am blessed to have a faith in a God of my understanding, that gives me many reasons to be hopeful, and filled with gratitude for everyday. Art and creativity from a young age, always was my great tool I used throughout life, enabling me to cope. It was truly my therapy and gave me solace, when I felt the world chaotically falling apart within and all around me. It is often difficult to know how to express this in tangible words. I intuitively knew art helped me, in ways I didn't understand, but I knew it worked. As I grew older I came to understand why, though I still can't explain it succinctly.
This article from the book by I found yesterday originally posted via Agora Gallery blog update via a post from a great site, Brain Pickings, featured the book Art As Therapy by Philosopher Alain de Botton, and Art Historian John Armstrong who wrote about, the 7 Psychological Functions of Art.
After feelings of frustration and sadness yesterday, I intently searched for something, anything related to how art and creativity can shine a light in the darkness. I found it waiting for me in my inbox. It made me feel excited, good and affirmed, because it puts it all together for me, why I am an artist, and why art is so essential to life. I know art can't solve all the woes of this life in our troubled world but it, certainly can make a difference if we are honestly willing to keep our hearts, and our minds open to the healing powers of art and creativity.
Rest In Peace Harley Lawrence