Art workshops designed to help community healing

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Charleston's heart is broken, and area residents are struggling with feelings of grief, fear, anger and helplessness as they try to understand the senseless murders at Emanuel AME Church. Although grief doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, residents in communities with other traumatic events such as Sandy Hook and Boston tapped into their creative process to find help with their feelings and emotions.

A new initiative, launched by HEARTS MEND HEARTS with Charleston County Public Library, is offering similar support to local residents faced with feelings of stress, dread or grief prompted by the church shooting. Starting Sunday, July 26, local residents can work with experienced artists and mental health professionals during art-based sessions offered three days a week at Charleston County’s Main Library, 68 Calhoun Street.

The goal is to help individuals use art as a tool to tap into their creativity, express feelings and ultimately work toward healing – all while in a safe environment. Drop-in art sessions will be offered on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., and more structured, art-related workshop will be offered on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. All workshops continue through the end of September. There is no age limit and no art experience is needed. Art materials are being provided for the free sessions.

The creative art process has been used for hundreds of years to help people identify emotions, encourage communication and promote healing. Understanding this connection, a group of local art therapists, educators, mental health professionals and artists joined together to create HEARTS MEND HEARTS in hopes of helping the Charleston community. The professionals will lead attendees through the steps to create mandalas, an internationally recognized process that encourages individuals to identify personal emotions and reconcile conflicts.

HEARTS MEND HEARTS includes numerous art and mental health professionals, all volunteering their time. The organization was started by a small group that included: Registered Art Therapist Dianne Tennyson Vincent, MAT, ATR; Psychiatrist Deborah Milling, MD; Psychoanalyst Sharon Martin, FNP, CNS, PhD; and Nationally Board Certified Art Educator Laura De LaMaza.

For more information, please contact Jamie Thomas at 843-364-2030 or thomasj@ccpl.org.

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