I understood that I must not paint that which I saw…not even that which I felt, but that which…was in my soul.”

~ Alexej von Jawlensky

On the canvas, the colors flow, just as movement on a dance floor or notes from a guitar. Crossing the threshold into the arts reveals a place where one’s inner being can be rediscovered and offers a form of self-expression that is especially valuable to those who are highly sensitive or have experienced trauma. The body has been with each of us throughout our lives and carries the memory of all our struggles; struggles which can affect our health and spiritual well-being. Under such circumstances, it makes sense for individuals to seek inner transformation and betterment through the challenging but gentle world of the arts.

For thousands of years, humans have used the arts as a form of communication and way to express themselves. But why art? How does something as simple as drawing help one grow and better his or herself? Art isn’t solely drawing or painting. Other common forms include sculpting, dancing, acting, music and poetry. Art provides an opportunity to explore, understand and resolve issues in a person’s life that they may not feel comfortable talking about in a regular conversation. By using creativity and imagination, one might be able to communicate in a healthy, productive way.

AuroraStudio_GroupShotHere in Asheville, there is one particular organization that is making a big impact in the world of art. Aurora Studio & Gallery is a studio that provides support for self-discovery using visual arts for artists in recovery from behavioral health, addiction and homelessness. The gallery’s support helps enhance the lives of some of the community’s most fragile artists, while strengthening their skill and spirit.

One participant of Aurora Studio wrote, “When I first came to Aurora, I hadn’t written anything in six years due to the psychiatric medicine I was taking. I was a little unsure about going to an art class, but once I got there my fears disappeared. Everyone was so welcoming and non-judgmental. I knew it was a safe place to be. I’ve learned a lot of new art techniques from the visiting artists, and I’ve even started writing poetry again! Coming to Aurora is the highlight of my week.”

Another participant wrote, “This class has re-awakened my creativity in ways I never expected. I feel more alive in general when I’m making art. I go in without expectations, I come out pleasantly surprised.”

Beginning Saturday, July 23, The North Carolina Arboretum will feature artists from Aurora Studio & Gallery in its newest exhibit, Rays of Dawn: Growth through Nature. The show will highlight the exploration of the ways nature provides solace and healing. Beginning with an open house on July 23, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Aurora will also host two plein air art demonstrations on Wednesday, August 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on Tuesday, September 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The exhibit will be on display in the second floor gallery of the Arboretum’s Education Center through Sunday, September 18, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Aurora Studio & Gallery.

For more information on Aurora Studio & Gallery, please visit www.aurorastudio-gallery.com.

 About the Author

Lori Greenberg, M. Ed, LCAS, is the founder and program director of Aurora Studio & Gallery. Aurora Studio & Gallery is currently a volunteer-run organization. If you are interested in supporting the program, please contact Lori at lori_aurorastudio@hotmail.com.