A teacher of enrichment art, Jill Cliffer Baratta has an MFA and talked with Dr. Gloria Horsley about how art can help in the healing process. Baratta lost her father, and immediately turned to her love of the arts to guide her own healing process. Her father died 45 years ago, right before her twelfth birthday. Even then, Baratta knew that art was her own best healing tool. It inspired her to keep up with her work, and it kick-started her brain to keep creating. As an adult, Baratta was committed to taking photographs of her loved ones, especially with their fathers and father figures. Later, a friend asked Baratta what she was going to do with all of those pictures.

That’s when it started to unfold. She began by putting photos of fathers and daughters on a page. Then, she undertook research about girls growing up without fathers. She saw many of the risks she avoided, as well as some of the risks she acted out. “Take some photographs, make copies of them, get scissors, get glue sticks, cut, paste, and manipulate—and look for what it means later,” she says. Creation is a natural healing tool, and can help you work through grief even decades later.

The Art of Making

Using art to heal has been a long-time practice, but Baratta truly makes it her own. Using photographs, especially of the person you lost, can inspire a tremendously deep new type of artistry. For Baratta, what she creates on the pages alongside photographs surprises even her. It might bring up old memories that need to be faced.

She encourages everyone who’s grieving to let their creative side take over. The meaning? That all comes later.


Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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