The Bass Harbor Memorial Library has been chosen as one of eleven recipients of the 2021 Mane Public Library Fund grant for its MDI Open Art Studio, a collaboration with licensed counselor and certified art therapist Dawn Nuding, LCPC, ATR, and professional artist and educator Kathie Pratt. The $3,585 grant will fund a free, art-based, wellness group/community pilot program for middle school students in the MDI area. The Open Studio concept is an evidence-based art therapy practice facilitating learning and insight through self-directed artistic expression. Research has shown that open art studio groups can build resiliency factors, encourage healthy connection and support freedom of creativity particularly during pivotal developmental stages such as adolescents.
“The COVID19 crisis has greatly limited natural outlets, social connections and community-based support for most students.” says Studio director Dawn Nuding. “As this crisis endures, we are seeing a significant decline in the mental health and wellness of school aged children. The MDI Open Art Studio project was developed as a collaboration between Bass Harbor Memorial Library, community mental health practitioners, and educators all of whom have identified an increased need to support the emotional, social and mental wellbeing of children during this unprecedented time. “
The free Open Art Studio sessions last 8 weeks, and meet for 1.5 hours at a time, via Google Meet. The group of 15 participants works alongside trained facilitators making art freely, based on a self-reflective/wellness-based prompt given at the start of each session. Participants are encouraged to request the support of the group when problem solving individual projects and have the opportunity to reflect on what they have made at the end of each session. Participants receive an art kit filled with quality materials to inspire artmaking both in group and beyond.
The Maine Public Library Fund allows Maine citizens to support public library services through a voluntary check-off on Maine income tax form Schedule CP. Since the program launched in 2013, small donations from thousands of people have helped purchase new reading materials and support innovative programs at a time when many libraries have faced tight book budgets.