February 4, 2012

The Value of Art

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If you’re reading this, you likely know something to the effect that I’m a type 1 diabetic and an art therapist whose professional and advocacy work is directed towards helping people with diabetes through art. Towards that goal, I facilitate Diabetes Art Day and the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange, I have a small art therapy practice, I spread my passion for art through Facebook, and to a much lesser extent, blogging and twitter, and I’m working on my doctorate with plans to do research on art therapy for people with diabetes. I do all of this because I believe in the healing power of creative expression for people with diabetes.

Sometimes I’m overcome with doubt though, not in the potential for healing through art, but in my ability to effectively demonstrate that potential such that others understand its true value. The reality is that no matter how much I believe that creative expression has the amazing capacity to heal people with diabetes, if no one else believes it, then my efforts, art projects, advocacy, and use of social media to promote art for healing don’t amount to much. The other reality is that I need to make a living, and let’s just say I’m not exactly raking in the piles of money. I thought that if I stuck with advocating, if I poured my heart into these projects and the work that I do, that eventually I could cover my own costs, plus pay a few of my gazillion copays, but so far that hasn’t happened.

So I’ve been discouraged and increasingly questioning how much time and effort I’m dedicating because it’s not fair to my family to continue chasing this dream at the expense of more practical things. I’m discouraged because I don’t know how to continue the work that you know me for at the level I’ve sustained. I need to reevaluate my vision, and alter my course, or at least change my pace. I’m not sure yet what that means for my various advocacy activities, but as I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Despite this need to reassess from a practical standpoint, I will never stop believing in the infinite healing value of art for people with diabetes. Until there is a cure, there is healing through art. If you haven’t discovered it for yourself yet, a real treasure awaits you.

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9 Responses to “The Value of Art”

  1. julie says:

    My son hates school, he never does homework is overcome with panic, depression, and holds his fealings about having type 1 in so bad it hurts. He brought home a photograph today he took at school that he photoshoped and the the teacher in her infinate wisdom framed for him. He was never prouder of anything more than this 8×10 photo of a leaf. Art healed a part of him today, Im sure of it, even without him even knowing it. If only for a minute he wasn’t “that kid with diabetes” but an “artist”.
    It’s true art doesnt pay the bills but it does heal the soul.
    Keep fighting the good fight,

  2. Kelly Booth says:

    I hope that whatever road you decide to take, that you will at least have a little bit of time to spend with your advocacy work. You have made a huge difference for me personally and I know you have made a huge difference for others too. No matter what you do, we will all be cheering you on!

  3. kathy says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you are discouraged right now. Thats a difficult place to be. I hope that you can work your way back to frustrated and find a new way to make this work. Passion and talent like you have would be so painful to give up on. As someone who settled for the practical career, I’d hate to see you settle for less than you are capable and worthy of doing. I know that lack of money can bring on difficult decisions, but I hope you can find a way to keep all of this alive for when the time is ripe. And it will be one day. All my best to you.

  4. Mike Hoskins says:

    Lee Ann: I’m sorry you’re discouraged right now, and that things haven’t materialized as you were expecting or hoping. I know that you’re making a difference, as I’ve personally seen it in my own life as I’ve tried to embrace art as a therapy tool. I’ve had some dark moments and, despite always being a writer and turning to words, I’ve tried to tap into other artistic juices starting with D-Art Day. And it’s worked. As far as making ends meet and getting word out to a wider audience, I’m not sure how to go about that – but I know that things will happen as they’re supposed to. Best you way, my friend.

  5. shannon says:

    in the past i have produced different projects one might call “labors of love” (not on the life-changing level of what you do, but life-enhancing let’s say), so i can relate to a bit of what you’re going through here. i hope you know how valuable my family and many others have found your various contributions to be, and i know i would be bummed if they went away, but of course you must put yourself and your family’s needs first. best to you.

  6. May your dreams never die Lee Ann, no matter the delays or detours life imposes.

  7. George says:

    The very first Diabetes Art day forever changed my family and we still talk about it.

    Find what works for you and your family. Just don’t stop, you work is too important.

  8. Jeann says:

    Lee Ann I am a little late commenting on this post but I have been very slack with reading your blog.
    First, I would like to thank you for organising the Diabetes post card exchange last year in which I participated. It is a wonderful idea.
    I am a quilter and textile and mixed media artist AND a type 1 diabetic.My creative work is a hobby from which I don’t earn money. But I need this time in my studio. It is a time to get away from the realities of diabetes. And the wonderful feelings I experience in my studio continue as I look at my works on the wall or as I mentally design new projects. I also meet with and communicate with other ‘artists’. It is a vital part of my life.
    So, your theory about art therapy is spot on.
    Advocacy is important but you need to find the happy medium between this and you and your family.
    Good luck!!

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