Columbia-Montour Quarterly Vol. 12: April-June 2024

Creations from Kelly’s Pottery group.

Left to right: Kelly Klock (program co-lead), TJ Burk (Danville State Hospital CEO), & Amy Shepperson (program co-lead).

ABOVE & BELOW: A few examples of artwork from participants in the Art Therapy Program at Danville State Hospital.

Several days of the week, consumers in the art therapy program work in group sessions in a large conference room in the main building at the hospital. There they work on their art using paints and canvases purchased or donated from local stores. Sometimes there are instructors or guest speakers who come to help with the sessions. If they prefer, group members can make pottery instead of paintings. “Art therapy is an outlet for creative self-expression, nonverbal communication and an empowering way to boost self-esteem,” Klock said. “It offers a non-threat- ening way to process difficult emotions and memories.” Not everyone is blessed with talent for art. I know I’m not. But people are encouraged to try. Sometimes it’s just paint splashed on a canvas. But as the photos show, that can be beautiful, too. And some of the art therapy participants enjoy expressing themselves by creating pottery. The woodworking shop at the hospital has been framing the paintings that decorate the walls. One of the recent success stories in the program was a consumer who went to work for an art gallery in Harrisburg after he was discharged.

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