Art on the Brain
Help us strengthen and expand Art on the Brain, a nationally noted suite of programs at the Wexner Center for the Arts for participants recovering from brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other kinds of trauma. Through art interpretation and group discussion, this innovative initiative fosters healing, resilience, and social re-integration. It engages “hidden” and often underserved demographics, with iterations for people in the post-acute stages of traumatic brain injury; military veterans with PTSD; and women recently released from prison. Through weekly sessions over two months at the Wexner Center, Art on the Brain allows participants to express themselves and challenge their minds as they respond to and discuss contemporary visual art, as well as performing arts. By helping them reintegrate and find a positive way forward—buoyed by others who have undergone similar traumas—the program benefits not only the participants, but also their families, caregivers, and the community at large.
Art on the Brain was launched in 2013 by the Wex’s Tracie McCambridge in consultation with the Wexner Medical Center and other local hospitals, and has expanded ever since with the support of additional community partners. The newest iteration—for post-incarcerated women—is especially timely given the opioid and heroin epidemic affecting the state (and affecting many of the women), and given the rising number of women in prison. To identify participants, the Wex will work with an alumni group from the Ohio Reformatory for Women’s Tapestry therapeutic community, which focuses on addiction and preventing recidivism.
In Art on the Brain, participants tend to begin by talking about the art, but often end up talking about themselves. One participant opened up to his mother about his addiction for the first time following a discussion about an abstract art piece that he thought spoke to the artist’s inner struggle. Responses to the program have been overwhelmingly positive. A Navy veteran dealing with anxiety and depression said it allowed him “to do something constructive with people and not be in a clinical setting,” while another noted that people felt comfortable expressing themselves “without judgment.”
The initiative supports several pillars of President Drake’s Time and Change strategic plan, while also advancing the University’s Discovery Themes of Chronic Brain Injury and Humanities and the Arts. Funds raised through this campaign will help provide honoraria for co-facilitators, artists, and on-site social workers, as well as transportation, food, childcare, and supplies.
We hope you will consider supporting Art on the Brain—a new way of fully engaging the arts as a tool for fostering resilience and reintegration.