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“Youth Art Month (YAM) is an annual observance each March to emphasize the value of art and art education for all children and to encourage public support for quality school art programs. Art Education develops:

  • self-esteem
  • appreciation of the work of others
  • self-expression
  • cooperation with others
  • and critical thinking skills

All of these skills are vital to the success of our future leaders–our children.” (1)

Art Therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to:

  • explore their feelings
  • reconcile emotional conflicts
  • foster self-awareness
  • manage behavior
  • develop social skills
  • reduce anxiety
  • and increase self-esteem (2)

Intrinsic Therapeutic Benefits

Art creation holds intrinsic therapeutic value whether pursued through an art therapist or as a hobby.  Utilizing various mediums in the creation of art, children can:

Depending on the ism, art can be adapted to the child – even for children who may initially be resistant to the art experience.

Art therapists utilize art creation in a variety of ways including the encouragement of play skills through imagination, teaching strategies to prevent a meltdown, and sensory integration.

Whether your child simply enjoys art, finds art to be therapeutic or is actively involved in art therapy, this month is a time to showcase and celebrate their creations.  Here are some ideas to help your artist celebrate their art work:

Host a Party or an Art Show

Who says you need to have a gallery space to celebrate and exhibit art work?  Find a space in your home to set up art pieces for exhibit.  Tables, shelves or surfaces can be transformed to a dramatic space to hold matted and framed pieces or clay/sculpture pieces.   Drape cloth over surfaces and display art pieces on it.

Host an “artist reception” for your artist. Invite family or friends or have it be the theme of your next family gathering. This can include refreshments and invitations.  Have the artist help plan the event. Professional artists usually participate in an artist talk when showing their work.  This is where discuss and talk about their work.  If you have an artist that would love an opportunity to talk about their accomplishments with others have them give an “artist” talk about their work.  The event could be an informal opportunity for developing social skills for shy artists.

Create an Artist Portfolio

Most artists have a “portfolio”.  This is a visual collection of art work they have created.  Take photos of art work, print them out and put them in a binder that people can flip through and view.  Professional art portfolio binders can be purchased at art supply stores.

Another idea is a simple 3 ring folder with plastic sleeves inserted to protect photos.  Art work can continue to be added to the folder and the artist can present the folder to anyone interested in seeing their work. This is a great way to showcase and share artwork without pulling out multiple actual pieces.  It also teaches the artist to take pride in their work and to think of themselves as “real” artists who create things that are important and matter.

Professional artists include an artist statement with their portfolios.  Have your artist create a paragraph describing what they like about art, their favorite materials, subjects or themes or any thoughts about their art work.  Ask them some questions and help them pull their thoughts together in a paragraph.  Include this in their portfolio for people to read when viewing the portfolio.

Find a Space to Exhibit Art Work

Sometimes people get intimidated by the thought of exhibiting art work.  You do not have to have an art degree to pull together art work for an exhibition.  Keep it simple.  A nice matte and frame for each piece of art is all you need.  Identify spaces you may be interested in.  I have had a lot of luck with neighborhood coffee shops.  Take a few photos of art work to present to the contact person.  Include an artist statement if your child has developed one. Displaying art work is a great way for coffee shops to connect with customers and the community as a whole.  Generally they are more laid back and keep the processes for scheduling and hanging work simple.  Most people enjoy viewing and displaying art created by kids.

Other ideas for exhibit space opportunities are hospitals, doctor’s offices, or libraries.  Take a look around your community to see what spaces may be available.  It is a simple way for businesses to support and connect with the community and potentially increase foot traffic.  It also provides the artist with opportunities to showcase their talent, be seen and heard and to connect with the community.   The artist also sees their art work treated as “real” and experiences the pride of their accomplishment.  Your artist may even have people interested in purchasing their work.  An added confidence boost to any artist!

Showcasing Art Work

There are many simple options for showcasing art work.   Don’t underestimate the power of a nice matte and frame to make a piece look even better.  There are many options for do it yourself matting and framing.  Many art supply stores sell affordable pre-cut mattes and frames.  Keep it simple.  A black or white matte will do a nice job.  Experiment with which one looks good with each piece of art.  Assemble the frame, matte, and art piece.

For sculpture/clay pieces think about purchasing a nice book case or shelf unit that can offer space for exhibiting pieces.  The artist can continue to add pieces and this is their space for all of their pieces.

(1) “Youth Art Month.” Youth Art Month • National Art Education Association. National Art Education Association, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

(2) “What Is Art Therapy?” American Art Therapy Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.