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Women artists of Arizona: a history of rediscovery and recovery
Posted in Mental Health - 0 Comments

Arizona joined the United States in 1912 and ever since has been a Mecca for those seeking a rugged lifestyle and awe-inspiring scenic experiences. The outstretched deserts, towering ranges and open skies have been a source of imaginative inspiration and therapeutic effects for many an individual. The history of art in Arizona is a tale that dates back to the early beginnings of the 20th century with the growth of local artists and the migration of other prominent figures into the state, such as surreal artists Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, in 1946. Since then, various nooks of the state’s wide expanse began sprouting small communities of artistic expression.

Cultural hubs of art include the central city of Sedona and Tubac in the South. The former is a home to the well-known Sedona Arts Center that was established in the 1950s, along with numerous neighborhood activities and events, such as the Sedona Plein Air Festival, and monthly gallery tours. In Tubac, the city’s Center for the Arts and Festival of the Arts have become recognized monumental gatherings of creative beings for decades. Actually, artists have taken pilgrimages to Tubac since the creation of painter Dale Nichols’ very own art school in 1948. Other interesting enclaves include Jerome, Patagonia and Bisbee, which were all vacant mining towns until being rediscovered and settled by artists and other bohemians. These modern, invigorated landscapes are the backdrop to various creative professions, from painters and musicians to novelists and crafters of jewelry.

Arizona’s female artists

Being one of the last territories to be incorporated into the United States, the state of Arizona was an unexplored world that attracted caravans of people from the far reaches of the nation. In addition to Tanning, a number of women trekked typically from the East to accompany their husbands or craft new creations of their own. The initial gender ratio of professional artists greatly favored women overall, but the extremely restricted rights of females during the time made life much more difficult. These barrier-breaking women kept lifelong dedication to the pursuit of creative endeavors through exhibiting, writing and teaching their work and the work of other pioneers. This was especially difficult for the turn of the century, as art was not very marketable and not many museums or homes existed to be decorated.

Alan Petersen, the curator of the Museum of Northern Arizona’s pioneering women artists exhibit said, “This extensive group of dedicated and talented women artists worked in the West and were largely forgotten until recent decades…[they] were professionally trained at the best art schools of their time, earned their livelihood as painters, and eventually came to live in Arizona.”

Nowadays, many female artists in Arizona still share a common goal of addressing current social issues through various methods of self-expression. These women offer a distinct commentary on their roles as females within broader communities and on taking control of both the positive and negative symbols of the gender. While a large fraction of women populate the state’s dispersed, diverse collectives as active artists, many also advocate the practice of art therapy for an even larger population of women in need.

Mental health is Arizona

In Arizona, about 221,000 adults and 73,000 children live with serious mental health conditions. Especially in cases common to women, such as trauma and mood disorders, different types of artistic expression have shown remarkable results in helping to deal with mental issues. There are a number of different types of expressive treatments available such as music, dance, poetry and painting. All of these methods bypass damaged pathways in the human brain by utilizing participation, imagination and other mind-body connections. Creating art allows individuals to resolve messy mental disruptions that may take much longer to tackle with traditional therapy or medication. The positive act of creating art reinforces the management of one’s skills, behavior, stress and level of self-awareness, which is a priceless tool for empowerment in continuing recovery.

As one can easily see, women have a special relationship with art, especially in Arizona. In addition to Arizona’s American Art Therapy Association, which has been committed to increasing the awareness and engagement of art’s healing effects, many other treatment centers provide alternative artistic therapies and also concentrate on the unique perspective of women. One of these treatment centers is Sovereign Health of Arizona. Sovereign’s Chandler locations provides women in need with a qualified staff who consistently support clients who are suffering from abuse, trauma, substance addiction and many other mental disorders with the use of effective, holistic treatment methods. If you or someone you know may need any of these services and would like to learn more about our programs, please contact Sovereign online or call 866-598-5661.

Written by Sovereign Health Group writer Lee Yates

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