Dr. Donna Kaiser, Director of Art Therapy and Counseling Programs at Drexel University, led this workshop that explored the therapeutic power of visual art. The primary focus of the session was to create art, and more specifically, to make mandalas—or art in a circular format. Dr. Kaiser, as a cancer survivor herself, explained the four-fold goal of the workshop: centering, rounding, stabilizing, healing. She provided all types of materials including paint, glue, tissue paper, and markers.
Each person set hard to work, and the room quickly got quiet. As time passed, however, the circular tables began to enact the very therapeutic power of circular art—encouraging people to interact with one another and to center, round, stabilize, and heal one another. Within the session, it seemed that each person not only made a mandala, but a friend.
As the session came to a close, Dr. Kaiser led a conversation about art therapy, explaining that the creation or even observation of visual art is a meditative exercise that moves one’s energy; in her experience, this internal shift can have positive physical effects. Dr. Kaiser also made it emphatically clear that, to her, art is more than a distraction—art is an active immersion in a creative process.
During this discussion, the artists put their completed works on the wall for others to see. Attaching verbal expression to the visual, some artists explained their own mandalas while some speculated about the story behind others. In either case, the group was extraordinarily appreciative of the exercise and of each other’s creativity. The session certainly promoted healing, not only with visual art as a type of meditation, but also with the mandalas as a type of encircling bond.