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Healing through Art

"Art is our one true global language. It knows no nation, it favors no race, and it acknowledges no class. It speaks to our need to reveal, heal, and transform. It transcends our ordinary lives and lets us imagine what is possible."- Richard Kamler.

My name is Adreenah “Dreezy” Wynn and I’m from a small rural town called Apalachicola, located on the Florida Panhandle next to Panama City. Art, for me, has always been my way to release pain and anxiety. Art gives me a platform to help improve the world, both the people and our environment. A large part of my desire to help others through art is because of my own healing from art.

At the mere age of 4-years-old, before spleen removal surgery, I was forced to accept the fact that I battle with a blood disorder called Sickle Cell Disease. This lifelong disease causes numerous complications. One of which is intense pain episodes called Sickle Cell Crises. The pain and stress from this disease can cause anxiety and depression. My need to cope and survive led me to art. It began when I was a young teenager having issues with the disease. In the hospital, I started off drawing simple sketches until I gained access to a computer with Microsoft Paint. Art was my way to survive reality using the positive thoughts and energy that radiated from my art. At that time, I was creating sketches for fun and to feel better about my situation. Little did I know, that those sketches would lay the foundation for a new life of possibilities and experiences.

As I began to contemplate all the possible subjects I could major in, I knew one thing for sure, I was certain that whatever I studied would encompass my two loves: art and helping others. Prior to enrolling at UF I had very little exposure to graphic design or art therapy. My rural upbringing afforded me little familiarity. I would go to the computer lab and spend countless hours looking up various art forms and potential career paths. It was through this research, that I learned of graphic design. An art form that would allow me to share my ideas and experiences using physical and virtual medium with the world. I knew instantly that this path was for me. Although it seemed I’d found my niche with graphic design, still one thing was missing. I didn’t know how I would use it to enhance people’s lives until I learned about art therapy. A field that encompasses my ultimate career goal to help people, to give them hope, and improve their quality of health through art. Visually stimulating, thought provoking, socially conscious, beautiful and unique art.

Every spring break, the University of Florida Arts in Medicine program travels to my alma mater, Franklin County School to complete a service project. It was as a high school student, that I got my first exposure to the way art could help a community. During my sophomore year at UF, I applied and was accepted to be a member of the Theatre Team with the UF Arts in Medicine (AIM) Arts for Education group. My original plans to participate with AIM were put on hold when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of progressing with the group, I opted out and remained at my grandmother’s bedside. I vicariously experienced the Art’s in Medicine Program at Shands Hospital as visiting musicians would play music and brighten my grandmother’s day they helped cope with her illness. My grandmother recovered and the following year I participated with the Arts in Medicine program and I traveled back to my hometown to work with the UF AIM group on the Franklin County Project. The very project that started it all for me. I went from learning how art can heal through my struggles with Sickle Cell, to witnessing art aide my Grandmother throughout her condition, and to finally working with my university to promote arts in medicine by showing high schoolers, just like my former self, the limitless nature of art. It seems as if the experience has finally come full circle.

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