Program Spotlight: Artability

Oct 11, 2022

Since 1994, Artability has offered free art workshops to community members living with mental illness and in need of a creative outlet for healing. Our workshops have always been open to everyone, regardless of previous experience with artistic expression or ability, and the program has pivoted and grown in major ways throughout the challenges of the pandemic. 2022 has been a monumental year for this growth.

We finally resumed in-person workshops in May of 2022 after a lengthy pause in the wake of COVID-19. This year, we’ve also expanded Artability On-Demand, a virtual series of art courses that we initiated in 2021 to adapt to the pandemic’s restrictions. As the world returns to in-person events, we want to ensure that this free resource continues to be accessible to all, no matter their comfort levels. In an effort to expand our reach to rural communities who may not have the transportation needed to travel to one of our in-person workshops, we’ve distributed art kits to a handful of rural providers: Alluma, Inc. in Crookston, Zumbro Valley Health Center in Rochester, and Northern Pines Mental Health Center, which serves the counties of Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena. We aim to reach people wherever they’re at in ability, resources, and location – across the Twin Cities Metro and beyond.

The testimonials we receive from workshop participants speak for themselves, showing the true value of this type of client-driven healing:

“I had severe depression while I was going through chemotherapy. Someone suggested Artability for art therapy. With the help of amazing teachers, my artistic abilities grew, giving me the confidence to submit my works to art shows and apply for a mentorship. I now have my own art studio and sell my paintings on a regular basis.”

“I feel grateful to be able to take a free healing arts class. Having access to a free art class is so awesome and important – it’s free therapy!”

Clients in 2022 enjoyed taking workshops that were open studio format, meaning they can walk through the doors and create with whichever materials they were most interested in. This format allows freedom for exploration and discovery, giving artists the space to take the initiative in their own personal projects. Along with open studio days, Artability instructors also facilitate classes focusing on a particular skill type, such as watercolor painting. Both options will be offered in 2023.

“I really enjoyed this class. It was a creative outlet for things I don’t talk often about. I was given another way to cope. 24 years of active duty, and I’m suffering from complex PTSD. This was very beautiful. Thank you.”

Another new Artability development reaches a new population within People Incorporated: we are expanding programming to all of our Adult Intensive Residential Treatment Services (IRTS) facilities, which amasses 8 buildings and just over 75 clients. Though we previously only offered Artability workshops at a few of our IRTS facilities, many patients at other buildings expressed great interest in participating. We see how meditative and fruitful these workshops are in the greater community, and we know they will have the same effect on our clients internally.

If you or someone you know is looking for a creative outlet, consider participating in one of our workshops next year. Our doors are always open to new participants. Though our in-person workshops for 2022 ended in September, they will restart in January of 2023; keep an eye on our website under the “Artability” tab for further details. You can also make a gift to the program to foster its continued growth in the years to come.