2019 Art Advocacy Grant

Award Recipients

Elizabeth Norden
Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, Chicago, IL
Health & Healing

Mercy Home has served kids in crisis in since 1887.  Its Arts & Art Therapy Programming provides young people with an outlet for self-expression and healing as they process the trauma they have experienced. Arts & Art Therapy Programming is designed to meet for an hour a week for group sessions. Mercy Home Youth Programs staff or the Art Coordinator can recommend, or the youth on their own behalf, focused sessions. Individual sessions are designed for youth whose treatment plans require additional interventions and, specifically, for young women who appear to benefit greatly from art therapy. In these sessions, the Art Coordinator is able to work more closely with the youth and take more time to process emotions, concerns, and traumas that emerge throughout the artmaking process itself. Art becomes an expressive power for capturing events that are often difficult to articulate with words or possibly too difficult to speak aloud. The After-School Programming (ASP), which is coordinated through The Academy, Mercy Home’s wrap-around educational program, has offered watercolor, jewelry making, photo-taking and editing, graffiti, printmaking, pillow-making, drama, and a kid-friendly version of “paint and sip”. Given the amount of youth served during these various sessions and programming, and with youth who show high levels of engagement in the arts, our needs for materials is increasingly growing.

Pictured - and acrylic pour, art that has a mesmerizing energy, a tantalizing quality and an ability to allow the artist to slow down and experience aesthetic arrest. Many report feeling calm and soothed while watching all the pigments move, blend, and separate from one another as they flow across the canvas and split into complex, multidimensional cells. There is a therapeutic, meditative quality to watching this process and being a part of the moment. This project came about from finding ways to encourage the youth to not “waste” paint. Apparent waste became art; a metaphor was born for those things that require second looks, second chances, new perspectives, and just a little love and attention.


Ashley Harwell
Canton Museum of Art – Canton, OH
Military Health & Healing

The Art for Health and Healing (AHH) program was developed in response to a growing need for innovative treatments around opioid addiction, cancer, aging, trauma-related issues, and other mental and physical health challenges prevalent in our community. This unique hands-on program uses the Museum’s exhibitions and art therapist-led experiences as a way for participants to express themselves and build resiliency. According to the Mayo Clinic, resiliency is the ability to keep functioning after stress, adversity or a traumatic event takes place. Resiliency can decrease your risk of mental health conditions and improve your ability to cope. Resiliency is an ability that can be strengthened through building strong relationships with others, finding meaningful activities, learning new skills, learning from one’s own experiences, and more. The AHH program sessions include Guided Tours and Studio Time. A partnership with Stark Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (Stark MHAR) enabled us to test the program, as well as collect valuable data and results. Our most enthusiastic group are the Veterans who have been so inspired by AHH that they’ve requested to open the program to all local Veterans through Veterans Affairs.

For our Veteran participants this year, the results have been instructional in further develop of the program and identifying ways to help each one of these Veterans work through their emotions – whether happy, sad or angry. 92% of participants agreed that, “creating art helped me to express my emotions in a positive way.” 100% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that, “participating in this program improves my mood.”64% of participants felt happy after creating art.

While the program is funded by Stark MHAR for a specific set of Veterans through their recovery program, other money received supports Veterans outside of Stark MHAR, allowing them to continue to open this much sought-after program through Veterans Affairs and touch so many more lives.



Grant Johnson
Louisville Visual Art – Louisville, KY
Program supports Art Education

Louisville Visual Art (LVA) provides exceptional art education via Children’s Fine Art Classes (CFAC) and Open Doors initiatives. CFAC has delivered high-quality outside-of-school art instruction across the Louisville Metro since 1925.  Since 1988, Open Doors has offered focused in-school lessons and units that enrich diverse student populations with custom-designed curricula.

Meeting two hours a week for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring, CFAC not only gives graduates a powerful set of art-making and critical-thinking tools, it also strengthens social bonds that boost confidence and increase the likelihood that graduates stay in or return to Louisville as adult practitioners, as evidenced by the fact that a number of CFAC teachers are former CFAC students.  

Open Doors education initiatives bring LVA’s high-quality art instruction into public schools and institutions where students live in care of the state or the juvenile justice system.  Intensive lessons and units are typically presented in 1 – 7 sessions that supplement existing art curriculum and reinforce connections with other subjects.  

CFAC supports art learning by 1,000+ students of recognized promise each year.  Open Doors reaches a broader cross-section of the school population, bringing visual art enrichment to 1,500-2,000 students of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds.         

Care-givers who recognize a child’s desire for art instruction clearly benefit when that child can receive it at low or no cost.  In addition, involvement with our program introduces families to professional artist-teachers and familiarizes them with gallery exhibitions, helping to de-mystify the career in art their child may choose to pursue.