Making art can make you feel better.
This is the concept Sarah de Leeuw, PhD, was exploring with a series of art days through the summer at Nak’azdli.
De Leeuw is a researcher with UNBC’s medical program, and she was gathering qualitative data on the role of art in health, well-being and community.
De Leeuw grew up in the north, and she believes small, isolated communities seem to know pretty innately “that medicine is an art.”
A year previously, in August, she visited Fort St. James to put on an art session in Cottonwood Park as part of a series of visits she did in a number of communities. The sessions were such a success she was asked to come back, and Fort St. James asked the loudest, so she came here.
Thanks to funding through the Canadian Institute for Health Research, she then put on three “Art Days” through the summer, with her final one being on September 13.
The sessions involved each participant filling out or answering a short questionnaire and then spending the rest of the day on an art project of their choice. There was painting, textiles, and clay mask-making supplies laid out on tables.
Annie Fox, one of the participants at the final session, was working on a beautiful textile creation incorporating fabric and beadwork, even though she said she had not done much art before with the exception of making costumes for her nephews.
“When you create something it always makes you feel better,” said Fox. “It’s a good feeling rather than sitting there and watching TV all day.”
She said it helps to keep the mind young and younger people today spend a lot of time playing video games and looking at Facebook, but would benefit from making something tangible with their time.
Getting together and talking over crafting or art creates connections Fox worries people are losing.
“The only way people talk to each other now is through Facebook,” she said.