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New Effort To Support Art Therapy Kicks Off In Saratoga Springs

Guests view work on display at the Art Pantry kickoff party at Transitional Services Association in Saratoga Springs
Lucas Willard
Guests view work on display at the Art Pantry kickoff party at Transitional Services Association in Saratoga Springs

A Saratoga Springs non-profit that provides support services to people living with mental health and substance abuse disorders has launched a new effort to promote art therapy.

Art on display at Transitional Services Association
Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC
Art on display at Transitional Services Association

The offices for Transitional Services Association in Saratoga Springs were transformed Thursday evening. Drawings lined the hallways. What during the day functions as a boardroom was turned into a gallery.

The art on display was completed by TSA residents, including Michael, who showed me his painting on display.

“It gives it inspiration, a celebration of the powers of it.”

The pieces on display in the board room were completed by nine of residents of TSA’s Edgewood House. Counselor Jennifer Young-Canton began the art sessions, held there on Saturdays.

“I had actually found a bunch of canvases next to a dumpster. And I grabbed them up and I brought them in and I started a Saturday art program with the folks, and it would get them out of their rooms, and I just watched as they would light up with excitement with the finished product that they’d created,” said Young-Canton.

The art sessions bring the residents together, and TSA says they can relieve feelings of isolation and boredom – common problems for people with mental health diagnoses. Sybil Newell is the organization’s executive director.

“In addition to traditional therapies, art is just such an amazing way to allow people to express themselves and to work through things that are sometimes not so easy to talk about,” said Newell.

TSA wants to expand its art programs, but supplies can be expensive.

“We are a non-profit organization and there’s not really money for art supplies. And in addition to that, health insurance plans don’t really pay for art therapy at all. So everybody has to fund this out of their own pocket. And yeah, it’s difficult,” said Newell.

And that is why Thursday’s Art Party served as a kickoff event for the Saratoga Art Pantry. Just like a food pantry, the Art Pantry is envisioned as a place to store and distribute art supplies to anyone who can benefit.

Arnie Morehouse of Jaeger and Flynn Associates, a human resources consulting firm, is a supporter.  

“It’s different. It’s not the normal thing that when you see non-profits…you see galas and you see all these other ‘non-profits ideas’ to try to raise money for the non-profit…this is actually something that they’re trying to put together to help other non-profits and their clients. So it’s kind of a neat idea.”

Transitional Services Association is located at 127 Union Street in Saratoga Springs. 

For more information visit: https://www.tsa-inc.org/art-as-therapy/

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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