Art Saves Lives // Angela Black

As part of our guest edited month exploring publishing and the emotionality of sharing writing, Angela Black writes about the power of creating and sharing art.

Through my experience gathering data IRL as a professional artist, an arts educator, a mentor and a mental health advocate- Art Saves Lives.

Over a decade ago, my best friend survived the most debilitating round of back-to-back depressions that left them house-bound, in a tub speechless for what seemed like months to me and that time was only the tip of the iceberg- before I met them it was ‘worse’ it was ‘darker.’  I had moved into their home when we made quick friends at a fundraiser for a witch whose house burnt down because of the sun catching a crystal ball. It was a fleeting moment for my friend, ‘getting out and all’ amongst an endless scathe of life-eating moments and days under a blanket; It was a pivotal moment for me, as I was looking to live in a place that inspired me and their home did that. I saw through the piles of clothes and dirty dishes and found inspiration in their environment.

We only communicated through Art when things were ‘really bad.’

Little by little I saw my friend heal as they were slowly brought into their music (art and writing, by angels and guides I am forever grateful for; this was a miracle)and they started to make action. The sensory rich swirl of the wheel, the clicking of the keypad telling stories and OH, the music they composed, was glorious. Genius—HEALING.  Being vulnerable and sharing art between us saved their life and for me, I developed a super-power tool that I have used in both personal life experiences to connect emotionally as well as in my professional life—DAILY—to the world and folks around me, art is my grounding force.

I have had at any given time a handful of suicidal students. You would never know it. These people are your neighbours; family; mentors.  What pulls them out? ART. In one case it was paint-by-numbers—nothing romantic or even high end—just the doing of it saved my student’s life. Along with having someone who is emotionally available and unconditionally loving I have seen ‘creativity making’ save lives—time and time again.

Angela Black is an artist living in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She runs Open Your Art in Fredericton. 

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