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Using Art To Heal: Young Domestic Abuse Survivors Use Weekly Workshop To Cope

Nicole Barylski

Amagansett, East Hampton, Montauk, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Shelter Island, and Sagaponack districts are represented in the SAF. (Courtesy Photo)

On Saturday, January 14th, budding artists from across the East End premiered their latest creations as part of Guild Hall's 25th Student Art Festival (SAF). The annual art show highlights students from public, private, and home schools in the Amagansett, East Hampton, Montauk, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Shelter Island, and Sagaponack districts. The festival is split up into two exhibits, Part I for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, and Part II for students in grades 9 through 12.

"For twenty-five years The Student Art Festival has helped nurture and encourage talent on the East End," said Andrea Grover, Executive Director, Guild Hall. "This event celebrates the artistic pursuits of our local young people by exhibiting their work in museum galleries and staging their performances in a professional theater."

For some of the participants, their featured masterpieces were created as a way to cope with an unimaginable, traumatic experience. Young residents of The Stephanie House, The Retreat's emergency shelter, are among this year's SAF artists. An art workshop has been a staple at The Stephanie House since 2013. Each Sunday, the East End's sole domestic violence agency provides clients with a creative outlet during a two hour class for children. Attendees can express themselves through painting, drawing, collage, clay beads and sculpture.

"We are thrilled, and grateful to Guild Hall, for including our clients in the 2017 Student Art Festival. Art is such an important means of communication and therapy for children affected by violence," explained Kimberly J. Nichols, Director of Development at The Retreat. "I hope people will visit the show and realize the creation of these pieces of art has helped each artist; it has made a difference in his or her life."

The Retreat notes that the workshops are extremely beneficial to attendees and the process can provide survivors with a way to voice to their suffering.

"Knowing the positive impact art therapy has for survivors, The Retreat established a fund to ensure resources are available for supplies," added Nichols.

Those who have taken part in the workshops have described them as their "time to not feel sad," "me time," and "a way to get to show what I feel without saying words." After reflecting upon what they've made, the artwork often provides the youth with tremendous pride and a big self-esteem boost.

In addition to the SAF Part I, Guild Hall is hosting a trio of complimentary workshops. On Saturday, January 28th from 1 to 3 p.m., Tsipi Ben-Haim, Executive and Creative Director of CITYarts, will guide local middle school students in a global project that covers "What does peace look like to you?" Two free workshops geared towards students in kindergarten through 5th grade will take place on Saturday, February 4th from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. Registration is required for all three events.

Part II of Guild Hall's SAF will launch on Saturday, February 25th.

Guild Hall will celebrate up-and-coming filmmakers during its 14th Student Film Contest Screening and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 26th at 5 p.m.

"We applaud all their teachers who inspire, nurture and continue to cultivate the creative process," added Grover.

Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call 631-324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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