How the Sisters of St.Elisabeth Convent Plan to Help People Using Fine Arts

Inspiration Studio will be opened in the Church in honor of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco soon. This church is located on the territory of the National Applied Research Centre of Mental Health. The lessons will target those who undergo rehabilitation in this Centre.

This is what the sisters who will hold the classes tell about the idea, about its importance and various aspects.

Nun Martha (Matveyeva), icon painter and artist:

— We dreamed of having a studio like this in the church built on the territory of the hospital for a long time. Finally, this dream is coming true: the church is already built; a big and bright room where we plan to have classes for those who undergo treatment and rehabilitation in the Centre of Mental Health has been equipped. I believe it is immensely important and precious that the classes will be held in this holy place, in the building of this wonderful church. It is no coincidence that this church is dedicated to St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco whose entire life was a vivid example of loving God and his neighbors. Even now, many of those who pray to him receive aid and are healed.

Our students will master various kinds of art: painting, wool felting, paper folding, etc.

I will be teaching classes on paper art, which is a vast array of crafts, including paper folding, quilling, origami, modeling, making sculptures from paper clay, scrapbooking, and a lot more. I like working with paper because is a flexible, light, and accessible material that you can use to make amazing things even during one short class.

I have already had experience working in the Centre of Mental Health. I used to teach classes in the rehabilitation department and several other departments. It was there that I noticed how meaningful and life-changing it could be! When we do something together, we immerse into a special creative and kind atmosphere and build mutual trust and respect. Our souls are relieved, and in addition to that, thanks to God’s help, we manage to make very nice works of art.

I praise God for having the opportunity to open our Inspiration Studio now!

Darya Yaskevich, a psychologist:

— Our main goal is to give people a chance either to get well or to learn to coexist with their illness, to be able to accept themselves and their illness. We will practise various methods, primarily the means of art, to help people during our classes.

Speaking of the materials we need for the classes, I personally like the resource-based approach, when you make things out of what you have at hand. It often turns out that you only need cardboard and a black marker pen to make a whole lot of things.

You never know in advance what you’ll use but we always need high-quality paper, good brushes, acrylic and gouache paints, and the already mentioned marker pens. We need wire, a lot of duct tape, and glue. We also need fabrics. Generally speaking, we will need materials that you can glue and paste — everything that you can cut out from and everything that you can paint.

Xenia Mamykina, a specialist in wool felting:

— When I conduct workshop sessions in wet felting, I simply do my best to make life easier for people.

Felting teaches you to love working with your hands, doing handicrafts and experimenting. Felting can help a person to get out of a difficult mental condition that she experiences. Felting helps individuals to discover new abilities. This kind of activity boosts one’s creativity. People start tinkering with things; pieces of wool turn into certain objects and grow in all three dimensions, and that’s happening right in front of their eyes. When you do felting, you are not fully aware of what kind of picture you will make in the end. These constant discoveries reveal one’s hidden potential of creativity.

I don’t have any science to back it but I can see that God helps us all, and it is especially visible when we are all together.

Natallia Zhigamont, an artist, a teacher, and an art therapist:

— The most crucial thing when doing art therapy classes with people in crisis situations and with those who are in hospital is a personalized approach to each and every person. Fine arts can therefore be regarded both as a means of communication and as a self-help opportunity. One should choose the kind of activity that will help her to get distracted from her problems and to divert her thoughts into a more positive channel. It may become an eye-opening lifehack for some people, which will improve the quality of their lives and give them meaning and purpose after they leave the hospital. Creative work is essential for everybody. It allows them to seek and find, to change and never stop improving. This is vital for those who, for a number of different reasons, find themselves in a difficult situation and see no way out.

September 22, 2017

St. Elisabeth Convent