Painting As Therapy

A UVU art exhibition inspires everyone to use their trauma to create something beautiful.

An abstract piece by John Rees featured in the "Momentary Acts of Violence" exhibition at UVU.

“Momentary Acts of Violence” is the art exhibition being held on the 4th floor of the Gunther Tech building at UVU created by John Rees. It has been showing since Dec. 2, 2022 and will continue to be on display until Jan. 26, 2023. The exhibition boasts several large canvas paintings inspired by the art of Karel Appel, a famous Dutch painter, sculptor and poet. 

These abstract pieces do not depict a particular object or scene but attempt to capture an emotion. In this case, as stated in the title, the subject of focus here is violence, particularly the violence Rees contains within himself. As he states on a card at the beginning of the exhibit, “The significance of this exhibition isn’t found in the works themselves but in the process of their creation.”

For Rees, his anger and frustration at the unexpected things life throws at him were the fuel for his art. It wasn’t so much about what he was creating than the process itself. By doing so, he was able to find an outlet in which to make sense of himself. In this manner, one can see how useful of a tool art is in coming to understand oneself.

In this age where the status of art is left uncertain with disruptions in AI developments, there is one aspect of art that AI will never be able to touch, and that is the value derived from the act of its very creation. 

A 2023 study by Mental Health America found that “almost a third (28.2%) of all adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed.” That same study also found that “59.8% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.”

With such a high number of people in need of treatment related to mental health issues, art functions as an easy-to-access solution. Art has long been understood as having therapeutic benefits. It functions as a way to understand and come to terms with the world, which “Momentary Acts of Violence” illustrates. 

It isn’t so much about what is produced then that the artist can find an outlet for their pent-up emotions which otherwise might be let out in a less appropriate manner. The result is something beautiful and worthwhile to everyone who sees it, rather than destructive and harmful.

“Momentary Acts of Violence” will have a public reception on Thursday, January 26 from 5-7 p.m.

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