Seeing a positive reflection of who you are. That’s the goal of a project more than a dozen members at the Middlebury Club have been tackling. The final product revealed beautiful masks that are now on display on the clubhouse walls.
It’s called Art of Emotion, a six-week program that deals with a wide range of emotions through art.
“Art can be really healing for some kids, and it can be a time of reflection while you’re creating. As they’re decorating the masks, every piece of the mask must have something to do with them – down to the color,” said Director of Mental Health Services Natasha Lantz.
“There are some things that are us, that we can hold onto. That was the idea behind the masks – to show positive reflections of who we are,” said Middlebury Art Coordinator Marisa Lutton.
Both Lantz and Lutton were surprised at how deeply some of the members thought about the design of their masks. The colors and designs all had to have meaning. Members needed a reason for why they chose to do something and be able to explain what that represented.
Lutton said members told her they enjoyed the sessions and liked looking at themselves in a positive light. She said the masks took on new meanings as they progressed.
“Instead of a mask, this is more like a shield. If they are comfortable with who they are and have positive thoughts, it can act like a shield,” she said.
Lantz agreed the program has a positive impact.
“They like the creativity they get to put into the art. It doesn’t seem like therapy because they’re doing an activity, but we’re talking while we’re working, so they get to express themselves,” she said. “The goal is to do something serious, but something silly as the same time. We want them to be doing things they enjoy. I love that they were all excited to come back from week to week.”
Members say they liked being able to share the creative process as well.
“It was really fun. Being able to work with a small group is nice. Most of them I was already close with,” said member Marsha. “When we were done with it and shared the story, I walked away with a good feeling.”
Members were encouraged to tell the story behind their mask, but were not required to share. The important part, Lutton said, was to create a safe space.
“It was really important for them to have a safe space where they can share without judgment.”