Barbara is chair of Creative Expressions, a newly forming program at Kadima, which provides clients access to the hands-on arts learning experiences guided by artists, as well as access to arts and cultural activities throughout the community.
Written By: Barbara Kratchman
I’ve known about Kadima’s work since the organization’s earliest days and have always been impressed with the people of Kadima and their passion and dedication. They to do a magnificent job meeting the need in our community.
When my husband Michael became involved (he’s a Past President), I was behind him 100 percent and have remained there. Kadima has been in our hearts for a long time, which led us to establish a small arts and culture fund. That fund is grounded in my great interest in the arts and culture community and my understanding about how arts and culture can change people’s lives. Experiences in art and culture can do more than just enhance peoples’ lives, it can energize, teach and bring satisfaction and salvation they may not find in other areas.
In Kadima’s Activity Center, clients often participate in arts and crafts but there are not many opportunities to learn about how to make art and what you can learn from working directly with artists. Knowing my passion for the arts, Kadima came to me about a possible arts exhibition. I saw this as a great opportunity to have something much more and suggested a Creative Expressions Program.
When I suggested we look at this from a larger perspective, I didn’t have to convince them; they understood instantly what I was talking about. We discussed what “art and culture” encompasses, and though we knew we could not do everything, we decided to start with visual arts, music and writing. We held a focus group with clients – some who were painters, some who were involved with writing and poetry and some who were musicians. Immediately there was interest to pursue a program like this, and it gave us incredible inspiration to move forward.
We began by putting our ideas and goals on paper:
1. Develop opportunities for clients to enjoy creative activities in the community
2. Recruit individual artists in the identified arts disciplines and create partnerships that offer classes and activities for clients in the Activity Center and in the community
3. Increase awareness and education in the community regarding mental health through the creative work developed through this program.
In the opening meetings of our newly created Creative Expressions Council, our brainstorming of ideas seemed to be endless! Pages and pages of exciting opportunities have inspired much excitement for everyone at Kadima— clients, staff, volunteers and supporters alike.
Already clients have experienced the Michigan Opera Theater’s productions of The Mikado and Carmen; Picnic on the Grass, the Henry Ford annual 4th of July event with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; and art classes at The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Center for Creative Studies.
Recently, I joined clients and staff at the Activity Center when two artists — a ceramic artist and a painter – taught an hour and a half session in which clients created their own collages. The collages were exceptional, and eight Kadima clients learned the process of making collages at the same time as they produced their unique artwork. I watched as some participants overcame the trepidation of trying something new and walked away with smiles on their faces, senses of satisfaction and stunning pieces of art. Each person was very pleased, and we all knew we had started something great.
In my heart I believe in the power of the arts in every way, as it affects our whole lives. I’ve seen how the arts can influence and spark a whole new area of interest and activity. Many times people come alive through the arts.
We can’t put mental illness in a box. Everyone is multifaceted, and there are many people in the Kadima community who have talent and an interest in art. If we can reach some of the clients at Kadima through the arts, it’ll make their hearts sing, the employees’ hearts sing and the volunteers’ hearts sing to know we’ve helped people in a very profound way.