Artist and photographer Nancy Gershman, of Art for Your Sake, joins Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference to talk about art therapy as part of the grieving process. Gershman is a friend of The Open to Hope foundation and specializes in working with those who have lost a loved one and want to explore their grief journey using an artistic lens. She calls herself a “memory artist” and the moment she enters a room that hosts memories of a loved one, she can start picking out aspects that would make for a good artistic celebration of the person who passed.
Artistic celebrations of life aren’t just helpful to create, but they are also a tangible item that you can carry, touch, and share with others. Having such a relic can be a great comfort throughout a person’s life, and help in a continuing bond relationship. When Gershman creates an art piece for a client, she also saves it in digital format so they can print it on nearly anything they’d like.
Art and Healing
“It’s a touchstone,” she says. Many people continue to talk to their loved one who’s featured on the piece. It also acts as a talisman. For instance, she recalls one man who made T-shirts that integrated his loss into the world. It originally saddened him, but he learned that it opened up opportunities to share stories about his son with others. After awhile, it was a reminder that his son remained with him.
The shirts were worn under graduation gowns, and family members rallied together for other special events—all wearing the shirt that tied them together. Gershman is available to create artistic renderings for anyone around the world, and regularly works on commission via phone, Skype, or other digital means.