The Power of Art: The Positive Effect of Art on Mental Health

“Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope.” (Brené Brown, 2017)

Creativity is a godly activity. According to Jewish tradition, every story in the Torah is included for a reason. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, a 20th-century scholar, wrote in “Halakich Man” that the reason the story of creation was included in the Torah was to teach us to be creative — just like God.

If the Torah then chose to relate to [humankind] the tale of creation, we may clearly derive one law from this manner of procedure, that [humankind] is obligated to engage in creation and the renewal of the cosmos.

When creating the world, God was nothing if not creative. The infinite seas and skies around us are works of art, and there is no greater music than the songs birds sing. And as beings created in the image of God, we have been given the task of carrying on that mission.

But creative endeavors aren’t just for our own amusement. In his code of Jewish law, Maimonides wrote that music was a powerful tool for encouraging relaxation and mindfulness before prophets can effectively connect with and ponder the divine.

Engaging in art and practicing creativity can leave us with more than just a beautiful physical piece of work. Art can be an incredible tool for expressing ourselves and actively supporting our mental health. Research has found “expression through art can help people [who are struggling] with depression, anxiety, and stress.” (Source) Engaging in art for even 20 minutes reduces cortisol, which decreases stress.

Individuals can engage with art on their own to see these types of benefits, or they can engage in more formal art therapy. Originating in the 1940s, art therapy as a field has continued to grow. It now encompasses “a wide range of creative expressions, such as dance, music, drawing, painting, coloring, sculpting, and more.” (Source) Studies have found that art therapy has a “proven benefit to both mental and physical health.”

“Art has given me therapy, happiness, and a purpose I never knew could be possible. As a first-time mom, trying to navigate motherhood and struggling with my mental health, I knew I had to redefine who I was on the inside and out. Painting gave me a special place where I could let all the thoughts in my head run free. There was no judgment, no mistakes, and no rules. I could just be ME. I would let the colors lead the way, and painting Jewish symbols felt natural.

I was always looking for fun and happy Jewish artwork for my daughter’s room with no luck. I decided it was time to make my own. I’m happy to say from the first day I picked up that paintbrush, I never stopped painting and creating. The happiness and healing it brought to my life led me to where I am today: an accidental Judaica artist bringing Judaism alive in a fun and colorful way for the modern Jewish home.” – Arielle Zorger

We invite you to set aside some time for yourself to engage in art using Arielle Zorger’s coloring page. Even 20 minutes will make a difference for your mental health!

Creativity and art are a natural part of the human condition. They affect us and our connection to the divine and the world around us in so many ways. When we create, we are engaging in the original work of creation, improving both our outer and inner worlds.

Check out Arielle Zorger’s work today: https://ariellezorgerdesigns.com/

Share this Resource