Art Therapy at the Brooks Receives NEA Grant




The Memphis Brooks Museum was recently awarded a $44,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to expand its unique Art Therapy Access program.

Targeted to at-risk youth, adults, and families in partnership with local social service organizations, the year-long program combines the personal, yet connective outlet of creating art with the social aspects of a museum environment to facilitate interactive and ultimately therapeutic group experiences. This year, the Brooks' art therapy resources will extend to the Memphis Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, Youth Villages, and the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program, with a specific focus on victims of trauma.

The Art Therapy Access program is tailored to meet the individual needs of selected participants - approximately 60 people in 2012 with 20 from each individual organization - who all receive a total of 45 hours of therapy, with some sessions held at the museum and some at the outside institution. The program will culminate in a public exhibition of participant artwork, on display at the museum for two months, as well as a website that will detail the benefits and outcomes of art therapy, to be used as a resource for other organizations.

Art Therapists Sarah Hamil and Karen Peacock are integral to the program's ideals. Ms. Peacock, who previously worked with the VA Medical Center, has served as the Brooks’ Art Therapist since 2007 and wrote her master’s thesis on the particular benefits of art therapy within a museum setting. Ms. Hamil acts as Ms. Peacock’s clinical supervisor, and both are board certified professionals with substantial experience in art therapy and social work.

The Brooks has undertaken the multi-visit outreach since 2007, which includes art making sessions with licensed art therapists, museum tours, and an exhibition of the resulting work. Originally, the Brooks collaborated with Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis, then with the VA Medical Center in 2008, and in 2009 with Youth Villages. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, the museum teamed up with the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program to offer instruction and experiences in the arts to children raised by a family member other than their parents.

The NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, awarding more than $4 billion since its inception to support artistic innovation. Art Works was created to encourage and support the arts in terms of creation, public engagement, lifelong learning, and the strengthening of communities, with 788 grants awarded to nonprofit national, regional, state, and local organizations, totaling $24.81 million to date.

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