Through the Art Therapy Access Program, the Brooks recently partnered with the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program (SCRCP), a program of the Department of Child Services at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. SCRP supports children who are not living with their parents by providing therapeutic activities, family advocacy, educational workshops, and caregiver respite. The Brooks’ collaboration included sessions with a registered art therapist, Karen Peacock, as well as interactive gallery tours of the museum’s permanent collection. A selection of the resulting artworks is featured in an exhibition now on view, MeTV: The Identity Channel.
The Brooks is one of only a few museums in the country that is integrating Art Therapy with the museum experience. Art Therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. Utilizing the creative process of art making and interactive gallery discussions as a forum for self-exploration and self-expression, this collaborative provided a supportive environment in which participants could develop and explore their personal narratives and increase their self-confidence.
MeTV: The Identity Channel
Inspired by Vide-O-belisk by Nam June Paik, located in the rotunda of the Brooks, each participant was asked to create his or her own television, and to choose a scene to display on the screen. The scenes were selected by the participants from one of several art directives: paint a scene from your past, present, or future; paint a time when you were happy or sad; and paint a picture of you and your caregiver. Each television is also adorned with unique hieroglyphs or symbols that communicate an aspect of the participant’s identity.
Allowing the participant to be the creator and “director” in this manner helped form a personal narrative in a creative way, which supported the formation of a positive self-image and increased self-confidence.
Each participant was asked to describe him or herself with one adjective with the idea that together these adjectives would help “advertise” and “promote” the MeTV Channel. Working as a group to create the billboard helped improve social skills. By being more conscious of how they present themselves to others, participants’ self-awareness grew and developed.