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Leila Saadeh, ATR-BC, LPC

August 24, 2020

The Virginia Art Therapy Association (VATA) has created an ongoing community art therapy response project in the city of Richmond starting June of 2020, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and recent protests in our city, and beyond. This project provides an opportunity for our community to express their feelings regarding the BLM movement, police brutality and systemic racism through their own personal creative expression. Due to the unprecedented COVID-19, our vision had to be adjusted in order to satisfy the safety concerns and risks of the pandemic, so we transformed this idea into a virtual community piece that will be shared via social media using the hashtag #arthealsandblm. VATA then uploads artwork submitted using the hashtag onto a virtual banner on the VATA website- connecting all individual pieces together. A pandemic will not stop us from reaching our community and using art for healing!

The Virginia Art Therapy Association has created art kits that include various art materials, fabric, and a letter and instructions to the artist to contribute their artwork to our community piece virtually. We graciously received donations from members of our community and local businesses in the form of supplies and monetary donations which has allowed us to reach as many people as possible thus far, and we hope to continue as long as possible! VATA has already distributed art kits to Richmond City Public Schools students and families during their meal distribution program, to community members and protestors at Marcus Davis-Peters Circle (formerly known as the Robert E. Lee monument) and at the removal of other confederate monuments, Art 180, and other local establishments in the surrounding Richmond area. VATA plans to continue distributing art kits to the community, in coordination with hopeful ongoing donations, and continue this project, as the movement for justice will not “end” until change has been made.

As art therapists, we recognize the power of art making and creativity, as well as art as a universal language, and we hope to continue to serve our community as best we can through opportunities for hope, peace, and healing.

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