What's art got to do with it...


Some of you may have noticed I have added a gallery of many of the works of art I have created over the past few years to my website (if you haven’t check it out!). Art is an important part of The Butterfly Project. I have done some academic research on the benefits of making art on mental health and healing, which I will share a bit about in this blog. I have had to devote so much time and energy into my academics, I haven’t spent a lot of time until recently making art or looking at how or what exactly is the role art will have within The Butterfly Project.

I have been thinking about fruit. I can hear you asking - I thought we were talking about art? We are and not a still-life drawing of an apple but rather the fruit that we produce (or don’t) in the things we do. In its plainest sense, the idea is that you nurture and protect what produces fruit and cut off what doesn’t. In plants, cutting off the branches that don’t produce fruit directs more energy to the fruit producing branches. Another thought that has not occurred to me before is the fruit itself, doesn’t take anything away from the plant. It benefits others and contributes to the overall health of the plant.


This has been a very timely and important insight for me. As I have been fine tuning the vision of TBP, doing some fundraising, expanding my network, meeting new people, and exploring possibilities, I’ve been looking at next steps and which pathway(s) will help to achieve the vision to help families who have experienced significant crisis. With so many options out there and competing voices, looking at the fruit that I have and continue to produce, has been not only a way to root myself in the flurry of possibilities but also has given me a tool to help identify paths that ultimately won’t achieve the goal.


I have from the onset, seen ‘fruit’ in many unexpected ways through my making of art and the pieces I have made. I couldn’t see how that part of myself was vital to TBP and honestly I’m still not sure how, but I am beginning to realize I need to lean more

into my art and art-making to figure it out. So not only has my fundraising with my art generated some funds (thank you once more to those who have donated!) it has fed my soul and helped me to imagine new possibilities. Looks like blossoming fruit to me and I've barely scratched the surface!


I have shared before how the practice of making art has been therapeutic in my life. My print, “100 Teacups” is a perfect example. I have never participated in Art therapy (I would love to!) it is known to be an effective form of counselling for many people. Making art is another pathway for families to find their way back to calm, leading back to connection with themselves and each other. Studies have shown that “Art making in community settings can enhance overall general health through strengthening self-esteem and self-worth, contribute to a feeling of being valued, facilitate development of interpersonal relationships, and widen social networks.” A lot can be accomplished in a person's life through art making, especially in community.

For my family, a number of years after our crisis, we stumbled across a place called Art in House in Barrie, (now called Spare Room). We took part in many of their workshops as a family, my kids participated in the summer camps and when we homeschooled, they offered classes that enhanced their learning. We had a terrific relationship with the owners and experienced a different kind of healing that is hard to describe but it was through them we began to trust people again.


Making art can positively affect a person’s mental health by creating opportunities for friendship, affirmation and support. This is particularly helpful for families who are in crisis because they often experience feelings of isolation. One particular program I looked at designed by an artist and an occupational therapist, showed that supportive relationships combined with the physical environment were significant in providing safety and the opportunity to take risks. Art making is also a safe method for personal expression and self-discovery, gives people a sense of achievement, and plainly provides a distraction.


I have now shared at least some of what I have learned about the different aspects of my vision to help families, through respite, time in nature and with art-making. I am now thinking about what the organizational structure of TBP might entail and looking at different models of social enterprise. I still have sooo far to go, but when I think it was only just over two years ago I decided it was time to take this thought seriously to now weighing the pros and cons of For-Profit, Not-For-Profit and Charitable organizations, I think that’s pretty amazing. As I lean into my art and art-making some more, I have a feeling the guidance will come with it.


I sincerely appreciate your support of my apprenticeship through New Ventures. My apprenticeship has been vital to these first steps in the development of The Butterfly Project. As a reminder, if you make a donation between July and November of this year, you will receive a gift of art! Details can be found at the bottom of this post.

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