MossRehab’s art therapy program is partnering with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to inspire patients to express themselves artistically and to experience art up close.
“I want all my artists up front,” said art museum tour guide Deena Gerson recently as she invited a group of patients to look at a painting. She wants participants to experience every detail.
“Looks like we could step right into the painting, doesn’t it?” she asked.
Gerson chooses paintings that speak to the issues of struggle and transition. Those in the group are either current or former Moss patients. They’ve experienced stroke, brain injury, loss of mobility.They all participate in art therapy at Moss Rehab and then tour the museum once a month to inspire them and to come up with new ideas.
Moss Rehab Art therapist Marya Camilleri says the creative process is therapeutic on many levels.
“They are working on their motor skills as they are painting,” explained Camilleri. “They are also working on paying attention to their left or right side, because stroke patients sometimes have left or right neglect, so they are working on those things, while they are also working on focus, and concentration.”
She added that patients could also be working on expressing their emotions and coping with a transition that they are going through while doing art work.
Darcie Moloshok, 26, came to Moss as an outpatient after brain surgery. She has a condition called hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling. She has had many surgeries and has struggled with memory loss and problems focusing.
She says during her art therapy sessions, she discovered a way to express herself through photography – an unlikely medium for her since she is vision-impaired. She says her disability offers her a different lens.
“Because I can’t see it, I’m not concentrating on the little bitty details of what’s in front of me,” explained Moloshok. “But I can look at the big picture, the different colors and what they bring to the table, and then once a picture is taken, I can zoom in and maybe there is something in those details that I see that I want to pull out.”
As the group discussed a Van Gogh painting, Moloshok weighed in on the colors: “It’s unfeeling and cold, because it’s all cold colors.” Tour guide Deena Gerson complimented Moloshok: “You have a very good eye!”
Moloshok beamed and chuckled at the tour guide’s observation. She has learned that despite her disability she can create art that is unique and beautiful in its own way.