Creativity as a Refuge

Self-Care Through Art Processes

by Arts + Wellness Director, Emily Ortiz Badalamente, MA, ATR-P

During these times of uncertainty, connecting to our creative selves can help ease the anxiety or stress that many of us are feeling. Studies have shown that art making, even for a short period, is connected to decreased levels of stress (Kaimal, 2016) and can have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010). Many of us have our own stories of art’s ability to carry us through a difficult experience or occupy our minds during stressful times.

I’ve been using this time at home to finally create new pieces that I’ve been planning for some time. I dyed these eco-printed fibers using eucalyptus and marigold last fall, and am pairing them with linen scraps sourced from a small linen clothing company. Next, I’ll stitch into them using thread, wool roving, handspun yarn, and scraps of weaving yarn dyed several years ago in Kelsey Brown’s Natural Dyes class at Sawtooth. Stitching and working with textiles is always soothing to me, and in this time I’m even more thankful for this meditative and tactile process. It gives me a chance to slow down and focus on the process of creating.

In 1982, Gerhard Ritcher wrote “Art is the highest form of hope.” As we collectively hope for brighter days ahead, I encourage you to stay connected to your creativity as a way to care for yourself. Set aside time in your daily schedule to create in your favorite medium. Try a new technique you’ve been wanting to learn. Connect to your artistic community. Share with us the Sawtooth stories you are making from your own homes, studios, and kitchen tables. Use your creativity as a refuge in this trying time.