Looking to the Healing Arts

Teenagers stand on ladders and paint a mural using paint rollers

High school students create a mural in Cataño, Puerto Rico, as part of efforts to advance community healing after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Photo by Colectivo Moriviví

At the National Endowment for the Arts, we strongly believe that the arts can be a powerful form of healing. Whether they're helping us recover emotionally from personal trauma, or physically as we regain strength, or whether they are helping communities heal from painful social divisions, the arts are a panacea regardless of the situation at hand. At a time when national healing feels more necessary than ever, we've put together a collection of quotes that illuminate how the arts can play a role in our communal road to recovery.

“Healing is about not denying the situations we’re in and forgetting them, but turning them into stories of what we are able to do and what we can overcome.” —Artist Chachi González, on the healing arts in Puerto Rico

“Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people—the beauty within themselves.” —Langston Hughes

“For me the role of the artist is to be a bridge builder. It is as much our job to heal and inspire and sometimes entertain as much as it is to disrupt and provoke.” —Vijay Gupta, founder of Street Symphony. Listen to our full interview with Gupta here. 

“Art is a wound turned into light.” —Georges Braque

"Art matters because it is a hate-killer. Art matters because it is the one true great connector in a world that seems to be very unconnected, and it's important now more than ever to shine a huge light on that connectivity that we have, that we often forget." —Josh Groban. Read our full interview with Groban here.

“Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.” —Toni Morrison

“In the midst of chaos—mine, history’s and the planet’s—we humans have learned, if we’re lucky, to look for consolation, to search out the solace of art, music and literature….” —Mary K. Otto

"A poem can provide testimony. A poem can provide solace. It can provide a connection." —NEA Literature Fellow Kevin Young. Listen to our podcast with Young here.

“Art as therapy is just the greatest way to heal. You’re able to heal yourself on the inside, but you’re also able to create beauty in this thing you made with your own hands.” —Matt Anderson, on the role of art as therapy in working with Cherokee foster children

"Art is the highest form of hope." —Gerard Richter