Art & Health

If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please contact a crisis hotline or call 911. 

Group Of Elementary Age Children In Art Class With Teacher

Art Therapy uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey believes that art therapy is an invaluable tool for navigating this time of adjustment, as it is valuable in helping maintain individual and community health. VACNJ is now providing art therapy programs as one-time workshops for students and teachers or as full-semester, once-a-week art therapy sessions. Programs can be tailored to best meet the needs of your individual school or community. Contact Sarah Walko, Director of Education and Community Engagement, at for more information.

VACNJ recognizes that many communities have been deeply impacted by the current public health crisis. The pandemic has presented unique challenges for us all, and we believe that art can have a lead role in facing those challenges, including assisting in the processing and healing of a variety of ailments, ranging from mild anxiety to trauma. To that end, our art therapists created these videos for our partner programs and the general public as tools to help us all continue to navigate the self-care, processing, and healing needed during this unique time.

The videos below are four parts of an art prompt designed to reduce anxiety through creation and destruction. Art Therapist NinaLynn Barbieri encourages participants to pause the video while completing each step, so all in all, it should take roughly 30-40 minutes to complete.

Recent studies have shown that making art can significantly reduce stress-related hormones in your body. In this video, Sarah Walko shares a few techniques for meditative drawing that can help take advantage of these benefits.

In this video, Megan Tuttle explains how to make a coaster using recyclable items, including a food box and magazine pages. This coaster is meant to serve as a reminder for caregivers to fill up their own cups before replenishing the cups of others (taking some time for self-care).

Art for Special Needs Communities

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey works with various communities to provide healthy, stimulating art activities and art therapy for individuals with intellectual and developmental special needs. Due to the pandemic and shut down in 2020, many of our care facilities can no longer allow outside instructors in or their own clients back to the facility until it is completely safe. We have developed an online series of videos to work at home with individuals with special needs in the hope that everyone can continue to make art for health and well being. Click here to view the videos.

VACNJ Executive Director Melanie Cohn was recently invited by the Old Guard of Summit NJ to discuss how art has been clinically proven to reduce stress, elevate mood, and lower blood pressure. Patients exposed to art during a hospital stay heal quicker and have a better overall experience. Art therapies have been developed to treat people who have Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and those recovering from strokes.