How viewing and making art makes you feel happier

With winter in full swing and gloomy days taking over, it can be challenging to stay positive. Combine that with the stress of a new semester starting, and you have a concoction of negative brain fog. Here’s something that can benefit you and your brain in the midst of stress: art. “I think [art] can definitely take your mind off what you’re going through, or you can just take your whole heart and what you’re going through and put it on the paper,” says Ellie Best (‘19), who just started an art therapy internship at Spectrum Health. Bridget Watson Payne, the author and artist who wrote “How Art Can Make You Happy,” talks similarly about how art can take you out of your mundane routine. Seeing our world from the perspective of others through art assists our connection with them.

When we feel the joy and empathy of connections with others, we become happier. Payne touches on the science behind this, too, which The Smithsonian Magazine dives into in their article “How Does the Brain Process Art?” When we look at an image, especially if it is considered art, it activates a response in our brains that we feel in our bodies. This new, growing field of work is known as “neuroaesthetics,” and further affirms the idea of connection through art. You may be thinking, “this is all great information, but what am I supposed to do with it?” There are lots of different ways to get involved with art, such as going to an exhibition, buying art books, or even creating some yourself.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or don’t feel like you connect easily with art, the practice of seeing the world through the eyes of an artist can be a rewarding, uplifting experience. Here’s a list of ways you can start getting happy with art: Visit the Kruizenga or the gallery space in DePree. These are both free andn campus, so there’s no excuse for not going. Currently, the KAM is featuring textiles in a collection entitled, “Once They Were Nomads.” Heading downtown with your friends? Stop by the Holland Area Arts Council to view their exhibitions. The current showcase is entitled “Seeing Through Dutch Eyes.” You can also take a class there for a reasonable fee. Visit their website to view their classes and hours of operation. If you have a means of transportation, you can visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Currently at the GRAM is an exhibition entitled “Water is Sacred//Trees are Relatives” by Dylan Miner. You could even combine a visit there with your New Year’s fitness resolution by attending their yoga classes on select Thursdays.

Check out their website for more information. Have a finger painting party with your friends! You can find art supplies in the bookstore, at Fris Downtown, or at the Michael’s just off of Route 31. All you need is a canvas and a few of your favorite colors of paint. Please feel free to mail pictures of any finger painting creations to us at anchor@hope. edu. Your art may be featured in one of our upcoming issues!

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