Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Art Therapy at Angel House

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 11:12 AM
Angel_House_3.jpgAngel House mothers and their children outside the Cultural Center of Cape Cod where their artwork was displayed last month. 

Art is not only an outlet for expression, it is a way for people to communicate and connect with one another. At HAC’s Angel House shelter, mothers and their children did just that thanks to a 12-week course that allowed them to tap into their creativity together.

The classes were taught by artist Brooke Eaton-Skea, a trained therapist, who met with mothers every Monday over the winter, educating them on some of the greats – Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Piet Mondrian – that provided the inspiration and the foundation the women would use when working with their children. On Wednesdays, the mothers would then apply those lessons as they helped their children create their own collages, all under the watchful eye of Ms. Eaton-Skea.

Angel House director Lin Rohr said the exercise served as a form of art therapy for shelter clients. “There was no right or wrong way,” Rohr said. “It is another avenue for them to release the stress and the pressure they are going through, whether they are an adult or a child.”

The Cultural Center of Cape Cod funded the classes through its Rise and Shine program which provides art instruction to at-risk youth, directly tying into Angel House which serves mothers, and their children, overcoming addiction and homelessness.

The end result was an exhibit of the completed artwork held last month at the Cultural Center in South Yarmouth. There were over two dozen pieces that ranged from a depiction of Batman’s mask to an assortment of animal pictures cutout into a collage on poster board to a drawing of a locomotive making its way down train tracks.

Angel_House_Art1.jpgArt teacher Brooke Eaton-Skea in front of the Angel House artwork exhibited at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod last month. 

Ultimately, Rohr said, it was not about the finished product, but the journey the families took to get there.

Ms. Eaton-Skea’s favorite part was “seeing the women enjoying the children and enjoying the work.”

Wendy, who helped her nine-year-old son Dakota create the Batman piece, said she enjoyed the opportunity to bond with her child during the classes. “I think it was really nice for us to do something together,” she said.

Amy Neill, the director of education for the Cultural Center, said there is a real benefit to art for people that may have experienced trauma like those at Angel House. “It is just a good way to shut yourself down and find that happy place and use a different part of your mind,” she said. “Art education is very healthy for a person’s well-being.”

There is a good possibility Angel House mothers and their children will continue to benefit from this type of art therapy thanks to another Rise and Shine grant. And that, Ms. Eaton-Skea said, will only serve to help mothers looking for a positive outlet to channel their emotions. “Art is a great stress reliever,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I love it. And it’s a good model for their children who can take out a pen or pencil and draw if they feel stressed out.”

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Tags: Angel House, Cultural Center of Cape Cod, art therapy