A New Chapter at ArtMakers

October 17, 2023

Under a sunshine yellow awning, a new chapter is dawning for Wyandot BHN’s ArtMakers program.

After more than a decade of providing a safe place for Wyandot BHN consumers to express themselves, ArtMakers, a therapeutic art studio, now has a new location to call home. The new location, near 7th Street and Central Avenue, recently opened and Jordan Graves, ArtMakers Clinical Coordinator, has big plans for expanding the program.

But above all else, Graves says she hopes that ArtMakers will be a safe place for Wyandot BHN consumers – and eventually for the larger community.

“I want people to come in exactly how they are, whatever state of mind they are in – if they’re happy, sad, numb – and have a safe place to be without feeling pressured to be anything in that moment that they’re not.”

An artist herself, Graves first started doing therapeutic art with her clients after joining the Early Psychosis Intervention Care (EPIC) team a few years ago. She says it has been particularly useful for clients who were unable to express themselves using words.  She now wants to make therapeutic art more accessible for a larger number of clients.

After opening the new ArtMakers space in September, Graves already has six client groups up and running. One new group that is already drawing interest is The Lyricist Collective, a therapy group that utilizes songwriting to reflect on life themes, explore who you are and process experiences.

“It’s all things therapy, but instead of talking to your therapist, you’re writing a song about it,” says Graves. “I noticed as I was transferring clients from my old role, there were a lot of clients who struggled to engage in traditional therapy because they struggle with vulnerability, especially for some of the men that I was working with just because of societal stigma. But expressing your feelings through music isn’t stigmatized. Society views that as an acceptable form of expression.”

As ArtMakers welcomes plenty of new faces into the space, Graves says her ultimate goal for each visitor to ArtMakers is that they will take their artwork out into the world and have the world understand them better.

“Sometimes symptoms get in the way of self-expression in the way that people want to express themselves,” says Graves. “What is nice about art is that you can do it and be totally vulnerable and then you can bring that object to a space and you don’t have to say or do anything. You can just take the object and put it into the world.”