Creative caring

During week one of Art to Heart, Julie Turner explored her personal take on creativity. In week two, she made a collage expressing appreciation for her hands. Week three was scribble night. “That week I learned it’s okay to not have control,” says the St. Joseph’s Home Care employee. “I’m seeing lessons in the fun.”

Art to Heart, a no-cost, eight-week online art program developed by Dundas Valley School of Art, provides a safe gathering place for those working in Hamilton health-care settings to create therapeutic art projects and explore the impact of the pandemic on their lives. Funding came from HCF’s Pandemic Response Fund.

Some quick number crunching by DVSA determined that almost 20 percent of Hamiltonians are connected to health care. “They’re going into a war zone,” says DVSA executive director, Claire Loughheed. “The whole idea of Art to Heart is to create the opposite experience. Sometimes the power of making art is realizing the potential for joy.”

To accommodate shift work, participants can attend any of the weekly online sessions and access videos of missed classes. Activities are designed for people who don’t self-identify as artists and have limited time and focus. All materials are provided for free. Classes are facilitated by an art therapist.

All 60 spots were snapped up one week before the first class, with a waiting list of 60. DVSA will eventually post short, professional-quality lessons online so they’re available to anyone, anywhere, for free.

Julie doesn’t need to talk about work each week to experience support — making art is enough. “Sometimes you don’t realize what’s coming out until it’s on paper,” she says. “We feel safe to share about our projects because we’re all in health care. The pandemic has turned my job upside down. The day after a class, I’m able to cope better.”

“Creative endeavours are all therapeutic whether you set out for them to be or not,” says Claire. “This is a gift we needed to offer the community.”

“This was more than just saying the words ‘health-care heroes’. It was tangible. It told us the community cares about our efforts.” – Julie Turner, Art to Heart participant

Excerpt from 2021 Annual Report