Short bio, where are you from, what is your background?

Hi, I’m Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli and a community artist with Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA) and an artist-in-resident with The Bubbler of the Madison Public Library. I’m a mixed media artist of abstract expressionism, assemblage, collage, fiber arts, and upcycled art forms. I hold a Master of Arts degree in expressive arts therapy and am the author of Art Journal Your Archetypes.

Tell us about your project that is in the exhibition.

Waves of Change is a photo series capturing the creation of a mosaic wall by adolescents at The Shelter Home, a residential facility for juveniles awaiting further court action. Madison art therapist Sara Jordan and I co-facilitated the project leading the residents in the design and installation process and also with the creation of the tiles. The tiles were hand-colored by the teens using alcohol inks.

Over six weeks, once or twice a week, the teen residents of the Dane County Shelter Home created their own tiles, smashed them, and then created something beautiful from it. Participating in this community art project helped, and continues to help, the mental health of the participants, the staff, and the neighborhood. The participants described the project as: fun, inspired, community impact, teamwork, messy, intense, vision, momentum, and openness. The participants came up with the theme for waves because it reflected how much they’ve been through and how they keep persisting and trying.

How can Art affect mental health?

Having obtained a M.A. in expressive art therapy, I have witnessed and truly believe that engaging in art-making experiences can change people’s lives. The process can help them cope, bring them stress relief, be a vehicle to share their stories - the good ones and the awful ones, and it can be a group or community builder. Art can be used as therapy and/or can be therapeutic.

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