This Saturday will be a day of art and healing at the Bed-Stuy Art House, where organizers hope Brooklynites will come together for a series of installation and workshops built around wellness.
The Brooklyn Arts Council, an organization that supports artists through programs, grants, and various other services, is spearheading the program, a part of BAC Wellness Studio, a new hybrid program that provides space for the well-being of Brooklyn’s creative community.
“Integrating oneself in community activities, interacting with others who have experiences similar trauma and talking to people who express empathy as well as feeling empathy for others are effective parts of overcoming mental struggles,” said Claudia Bellair, a psychologist at Brooklyn’s Wellbridge Treatment Center.
Nearly one in every 25 New Yorkers live with a serious mental illness, according to city data. Approximately 280,000 adults deal with diagnoses like major depression or schizophrenia, a disorder that impairs daily functioning in people by provoking abnormal interpretations of reality. In many cases, these ailments are caused by isolation, burnout and anxiety for which psychiatric care is crucial.
To combat a rise in mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic, Bed-Stuy Art House — a space where local artists work and host shows — is hosting the “neighborhood clinic healing” in collaboration with BAC on May 21.
The afternoon “installation” will kick off with an improv acting class at 9 am, guided by Black improv comedy group 2FIFS, where attendees will be encouraged to express and explore their emotions.
Next, Barber Rick of Rick’s Barbershop will host a Haircut & Conversation on Wellness session, followed by an immersive sonic experience in an exhibit that combines sound and digital art created by David Gumbs. Six other artists designed the music and soundscapes that complete the show.
“Sound can be a strong healing tool because it can trigger our brain in powerful positive ways by evoking emotions and memories,” said Brooklyn-based sound designer Veronica Filliard. “It is no secret that people are still trying to bounce back from all the struggles the pandemic brought to this city. COVID is still around and so is the trauma that the lockdown caused on all of us.”
Moving forward, Filliard said, it’s about getting on while still processing grief.
“There was a strong sense of empathy through the thick of it, but now that people are trying to go on about their lives as much as they can, some are being left with a deep sense of loneliness and hopelessness and no time to grief,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “We haven’t healed and it is important to take the time to connect with our senses and allow ourselves to feel.”
This weekend’s event will conclude with a breathing session that will evoke Orisha costumes, from the religion of the Yoruba, which worships forces of nature and the universe.
The organization’s hope for healing should come as no surprise to supporters, as BAC has long worked to make its artists, participants and patrons feel supported.
The group strongly believes that artists need to be healthy to contribute to the holistic thriving of Brooklyn communities, as stated in its motto: “Art and wellness go hand in hand. Creativity does the body good. Culture helps a community grow stronger.”
Bed-Stuy Art House is located at 198a Lewis Ave. For more information on Saturday’s “day of healing,” visit brooklynartscouncil.org.