Art for Wellness Program in U.S.-based offices of a AM Law 100 firm
Reed Smith - Art for Wellness Initiative
Art for Wellness is structured as a month-long program which has three main components:
presentation on the science behind art wellness and art therapy;
Hands-on introduction to art wellness tools and techniques:
custom-themed art stations and workshops led by attorneys, staff, and local artists;
Art exhibit and networking:
brick-and-mortar and online art shows specifically designed to promote interoffice connections, to highlight benefits of creative activities, and to encourage healthier, stronger and more resilient workplace.
Dr. Donna Betts, Associate Professor and Research Director in the graduate Art Therapy Program at the George Washington University and former President of the Board of the American Art Therapy Association described how art-making can be harnessed to improve health and well-being, to reduce stress, to prevent burnout, and to strengthen the professional community. She also spoke about mechanics of art wellness and discussed ways to measure progress.
Sasha Phillips together with the Art for Wellness speaker Donna Betts.
Each office designated areas for ARTiZEN Pop-up Art Studios, with various art and craft materials for firm employees to take a break during the day to draw, doodle, paint or work on a craft project.
As a Firm-wide event, Reed Smith hosted an online art show (as well as individual office art shows) to display drawings, paintings, craft and handmade projects by the firm's attorneys and professional staff, each with an explanation on how art helps them feel better.
ArtiZen – Pop-up Art Zones
Knitting/crochet needles and yarn
Uncle Sam painting workshop in Pittsburgh, alcohol painting in New York, "office quilt" in DC, iPhone photography in LA
«Virtual» Art Exhibit – over 100 participants across Reed Smith offices from San Francisco to New York
Local Art Exhibits
Local Art Exhibits were held in our US Offices featuring the art and crafts of attorneys and professional staff.
Sasha Phillips, Pittsburgh
Despite obtaining MFA in Painting, I never bought into the idea that art is or should be for art's sake. Any time I painted or even went into a museum, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, peace and happiness, and I knew it probably had nothing to do with the end product. Many times someone would ask me - how do you manage to find time and energy for demanding stressful work, kids AND painting? And my answer always was that if I didn't paint, I wouldn't have energy or strength to do as many things or to do them as well. Fast-forward 20 years and the scientists are now confirming what I felt all along. They clearly explain surges of energy, happiness and resilience after making art by identifying neurotransmitters, hormones and frontal cortex activity, which is responsible for elevated mood, lowered stress and increased cognitive function. And many suggest that art should be as much part of one's wellness routine as nutrition and exercise. I absolutely agree.
Emily Dimond, Pittsburgh
I believe that the arts help us connect with what makes us human. The performing arts have always been a part of my life. I grew up singing, dancing, and acting, and got my master's in educational theater. My education helped me understand what I have always experienced -- that my first loves: music, dance and drama, help me to connect with, contribute to and understand the world around me. By participating in the arts as a young person, I was able to connect to others, to learn to rely on them, and to develop confidence in myself. The arts are still a huge part of my life. I sing off-and-on with the University Singers at Duquesne, which has been an amazing creative outlet. It helps keep me sane!
Beth Weller, New York
Art and wellness go together like the blurred lines in this painting. What do you see? An ocean? A skyline? Just a bunch of colors? It doesn't matter because there is no right or wrong; there is just the feeling of accomplishment. Spending time unplugged creating my own paradise is rejuvenating.
Deborah Kalahele, San Fancisco
Quilting is one of my favorite pastimes. The opportunity to carry on a time-honored tradition of artistry and skill with a close circle of friends to collaborate with and express myself using fabrics and textiles allows me to unplug from a tech driven world. Inspiration strikes from different places, sometimes it's who I'm creating a quilt for, and sometimes it's the season of the year, or a specific pattern or a beautiful collection of fabrics. A special part of quilting are the connections I make with my quilting group which are based on a mutual passion to create, share and support. We shop and select the perfect pattern and fabrics, cheer each other on through a difficult piecing project, and applaud enthusiastically when we show off a finished quilt. My quilting comrades are more than the enjoyment of a shared pastime. It's the laughter, shared personal successes and failures, stories of family escapades, a shoulder of support when facing a particular health issue or the loss of a love one. The stress I carry around simply falls away the moment I walk through the door of a friend's home to quilt with an extraordinary group of women. The fellowship immediately embraces me like snuggling into a warm flannel quilt.
Richard Tannenbaum, New York
For me, an essential component of my wellness is being present in the moment. Photography – capturing a moment – allows me to direct my focus exclusively on where I am, what I feel, and the image I want to preserve through the photograph. Live music affords me the opportunity to combine the joy I feel listening to the music with my focus on being present then and there
Kathy Scapanda, Philadelphia
I always found it hard to relax. I am a runner, but that does not provide the stillness that I found through adult coloring. This is a wonderful way to decompress. It is a portable hobby that you can experience at any time and in any place. Depending on what picture you select, it can be extremely detailed or not. It allows you to be creative and experiment with various techniques and materials. I like to use pencils, gel pens, glitter pens, ribbon and other decorative embellishments. It's all about personal preference.
Tim Gough, Chicago
Usually when I shoot photos, I go out by myself. There is a lot of sitting around and waiting, you need to get to a spot early so you're not rushed and then you need to wait for the right light and conditions. Sometimes I listen to music or other times the sounds around me. But it's usually peaceful and an opportunity to not think about much and take in the scenery around you.
Sandra Ragsdale, Richmond
Creating to me is like yoga for the brain. It relaxes, de-stresses and clears my mind which helps refocus my positive energy and clears out the negative. My cross-stitch helped me get through the death of my father and kept me occupied during the long hours in the hospital. Photography is also very relaxing and refocusing because finding that exact moment when shapes, shadows and nature's beauty combine for that perfect shot is so rewarding in the present and later when looking at what was captured. Creating also teaches patience because sometimes getting it right takes a lot of time and effort.