Jennifer Radil

Kim Carlson

I led my first WhyArts? workshop in 2006. Facilitating creative opportunities for others, along with my background in art therapy and my own studio practice, allows me to continually witness the life affirming and beneficial effects of creating. These experiences feed my zeal for art making.

WhyArts? has introduced me to countless individuals and social services agencies in our community. It’s allowed me to to secure a grant from the Kennedy Arts Center to lead young people with disabilities in the creating of self-portraits. I’ve made masks with mothers recovering from substance abuse (using the outer mask to express how the artist is perceived by others, while the inside reflects her “authentic self”). Sometimes the focus isn’t on the clients but on the employees of these organizations; I’ve worked with Heartland Family Service clinicians, for example, on experiential exercises that invite them to do their own self-exploration. It’s rich work that unfailingly testifies to the power of the creative process.

As the facilitator my job is to establish an atmosphere that is safe yet open; engaging and honoring of participants’ narratives. The highlight is seeing an individual who has branded him- or herself a “non artist,” create a work that is original, expressive, and undeniably personal.