Our Voices Matter - A Clubhouse Art Project

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(Seacoast Pathways, a program of Granite Pathways, is a mental health recovery peer community in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.)

"Motivational Signage or "Inspirational Art," whatever you want to call it, is an important feature of any Clubhouse.

If you visit a Clubhouse like ours, you will be impressed with a vast array of motivational signs: "Don't Give Up The Ship!" "There's No One Path To Recovery!" "Patience Is A Virtue!" Some of these signs are extremely large, and hang prominently over the dining room, front entrance, or unit offices. They are designed to keep members hopeful and purposeful as they go about the work-ordered day. At Seacoast Pathways we have a history of making art, which by itself, is a non-clinical form of therapy. Throughout it all, our Expressive Arts Therapist, Mindy Bocko, has been there to lead and inspire us.

Recently she led a group in our latest project, "Our Voices Matter." As we sat around a large table, Mindy gently asked us simply, "What does the Clubhouse mean to you?"  Members and staff took some time to jot down their thoughts and ideas. This led to a good discussion about the question and how members felt. Wait a minute--this was supposed to be about art, right? (cont'd)

Mindy leads us as member Sam looks on.
The process of finding our voice begins.

That's Mindy! Her art projects always involve a heaping portion of self-reflection and group interaction. It's part of the process she offers. The actual doing or making of the art comes only after there has been an opportunity for all involved to think, plan, reflect and connect with the project.

Final products grace our Clubhouse

Mindy has introduced many art activities at the Clubhouse. A favorite was during our Arts Festival  produced in the Fall of 2016. She brought in several boxes of postcards she had collected depicting a wide variety of photos and artwork, including The Beatles (one of her favorites.) Mindy laid them out on a large table, just a mass of postcards. Participants were asked to sift through them and choose one that spoke to them. Then, standing in a circle with each other, they showed their postcards and explained why they connected to them. Sounds simple, but this writer participated in the activity and chose a picture of Alfred Hitchcock. When asked to explain why I found interest in that one, I found myself explaining that it reminded me of my dear late mother and her influence on me for loving the movies. It caught me by surprise, but that's Mindy, always looking for something deeper than the art itself!

Thanks so much, Mindy... and to all the other great volunteers who continue to work with us in our music, art, or any other endeavors. They are each so important to all of us, and we express our sincere gratitude!

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