New program at Notre Dame of Maryland University uses art to heal

BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) - It's healing through art. And now, Notre Dame of Maryland University has the first and only art therapy program in the state.

Art experts says art therapy, when done correctly, can make a real difference for those suffering from, depression, trauma or other health conditions.

"They are painting or making something and they’re healing.  It’s self healing, that’s art therapy," said Maryland First Lady, Yumi Hogan.

Hogan made an appearance to praise Notre Dame for its innovative new art therapy program.  An artist herself, she said it is a true healer.

"Art is making all people equal.  It doesn't matter color, or rich or poor. It doesn't matter who are.  Art is everything you make it," said Hogan.

A panel of art experts including art therapists and a curator discussed how art, in many ways, saved so many Holocaust survivors; the subject of the school's new exhibit.

"The reason I was on the panel tonight is because my mother is a survivor of the holocaust and four years ago, painted her life story paintings," said art therapist, Claudia Cameron.

She said those paintings told a story and served as a way for her family to overcome such a devastating time.

"It's a way of releasing feelings and having things come outside of yourself and in the process of creating something, that becomes a healing process in itself," Cameron said.

In Gormley Gallery, dozens of pieces done by people who saw the horrors of the Holocaust hang.  They used art to find something positive.

"It is a testimony to the human spirit of how people can create in the direst of circumstances," Cameron told ABC2.

Among those who came to see the pieces of survival, were Notre Dame's newest art therapy students. 

"I think that psychology and art put together was something that I didn't think about but then I came to Notre Dame and it just clicked," student Nia Willis said.

Willis said she's anxious and ready to show people they can use their own talents to heal. 

"I realized my need for service to give back to the community," said Willis.

Notre Dame offers art therapy degrees for both Bachelor's and Master's students.   Graduates can work in various settings like schools and medical facilities.

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