Photo-essay: Art as Therapy in a Psychiatric Unit
Photo-essay: Art as Therapy in a Psychiatric Unit
This photo-essay will explore and document how art is used therapeutically for the mentally ill at the Creedmore Psychiatric Unit.
This photo-essay will explore and document how art is used therapeutically for the mentally ill at the Creedmore Psychiatric Unit. Read more
The Creedmore Pschiatric Unit's Living Museum provides an alternative venue for psychiatric patients who cannot lead a normal life but yearn to recover their humanity as they receive treatment for their mental illnesses while simultaneously explore their creative interests. Many artists I spoke with there remark about their terrible memories at normal psychiatric hospitals with little light, harmful medical treatments, and outright physical and psychological abuses that exacerbated their illnesses. However, in the Living Museum they have begun to enjoy their lives as they talk to other artists in the community, construct sculptures, paint on canvas, serve themselves some coffee, and in the evening, some even go home to their respective apartments to rest in preparation for the next day’s adventure. The success of this project serves as a stark rebuttal to the pessimistic, traditional medical community that had predicted its failure.
Nevertheless, many of these artists, cannot live outside the boundaries of the Living Museum. It is too daunting of a task, and there is a palpable sense that many of them are mere steps from falling into the spiral of instability. However, if we redefine therapy as something that allows patient to lead a pleasant life instead of making them functional again, then the Living Museum and its founders may claim a partial victory as evidenced by the enthusiastic faces that walk the halls of the Living Museum. Many of the patients –now artists– have re-identified themselves beyond their psychiatric illness, in a way that allows them to see the world using the prism of an artist’s freedom as they grasp a happiness they would never have reached otherwise. In a way, the Living Museum allows them to be reborn as a beautiful art project themselves. Hence, my goal will be to capture in a photo-essay the metamorphosis as patients transition to artists inching towards the freedom the outside world only wishes they had.
I have published a photo-essay before when I was in Cuba last summer. It was published in the Latin American New Dispatch and here is the link to the work:
I have also copied some of the images with captions here so that you can see the quality of my work. Hope you enjoy them!
" Photographer Daniel Lascano captured the following images in Cuba from July 7-28, 2011 as he traveled from Havana to Baracoa. Lascano writes, “Cuba for me– and many Latin Americans– is a pilgrimage of sorts because at one point it represented our most hopeful desires for our burgeoning American republics; sadly, we realized that it came at the cost of autonomy and personal development. Hence, I wanted to demystify Cuba and personally deconstruct what the revolution meant in the Cuban psyche.” - April 19, 2012 "
Why I want to do this
This will be my first opportunity to make a photo-essay in the context of medicine. I believe documenting patients as they face their illnesses is important for my training as a physician while simultaneously helping a patient document their struggle. In addition, I think that in medicine, alternative venues for treatment are never really pursued as we all seek that magic pill that can cure someone. My project will show that people can lead happy lives and cope with their illness if we allow them to use art to express their emotions and pain, facilitating a catharsis of sorts.
Another reason is that I believe that this type of project gives the humanities and arts some relevance in medicine and treating the ill. Nowadays, we ask the humanities and the arts practicality--that is some way for it to apply itself for practical benefits. I am not a fan of this idea just because the humanities and the arts offer so much in value that cannot be measured such as self-reflection, innovative thought, empathy, etcétera. However, these are not tangible values, but something like the Living Museum's project is both tangible and practical. Hence, I believe it is important to document this novel application of art as therapy for the mentally ill as evidence against the arguments from the naysayers that state that the humanities and arts are just a bourgeois construction with no practical benefits. I hope to prove them wrong.
Reasons I need funding
The reason I need the money is for housing in New York for the duration of the project which will roughly be about 6-8 weeks, public transportation and other logistical costs. I also need to purchase materials to try to print some of the photos and/or pay someone to make the large prints required for the exhibition. I hope to set up everything for September and everyone is invited! Your support is crucial for this project so please help me out by pledging whatever you can! Once again thanks for your support!
- (30 days)