Healing Properties: Art + Health

2014, Number 3

Cover of NEA Arts No 3 2014
About this issue: 

At some point in our lives, all of us have felt the healing properties of art, even if in subtle ways. Maybe it’s a certain song or album we listen to when in need of a pick-me-up, or a particular movie we watch that somehow always manages to comfort. Or maybe it’s a book we’ve read that has helped us make sense of the world, and realize that we are not alone.

But these properties, when writ large, are capable of doing far more than cheer us up after a down-and-out day. When used to its maximum potential, art has the power to ease the symptoms of trauma, to change the dynamics of the aging process, and alleviate emotional and physical symptoms of chronic illness.

In this issue, we’ll look at some of the innovative ways that organizations are using art as an instrument of healing. At the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, art therapy is helping service members grapple with the complex issues behind post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. At the nonprofit D-Rev, creative product design is forging solutions for medical issues plaguing third-world countries. AIDS Quilt workshops provide an outlet for grief and mourning, while working toward HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. COSACOSA, based in Philadelphia, uses public art to heal communities fractured by poverty and illness, and in California, EngAGE is challenging the concept of what retirement communities should look like.

As you read through this issue, we hope you’ll see the potential art has to heal, in equal measure, the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Cover Credit: 

A prosthetic knee designed by the nonprofit product developement company D-Rev. Photo courtesy of D-Rev