Learning to live healthy through art

 

Paper cups cut into flower pedals, cotton balls, and bubbles used to paint abstract designs on sheets of white paper brought out the artistic spirit in kids and adults this past week. 

Sophia Gomez taught two art classes last Friday and Saturday – a project that culminated with an art show at the Colusa County Arts Council studio on Monday night. 

Gomez, who hosted the events as part of her senior project, said she wanted to inspire others to explore their artistic abilities as a way to a long life and better health. 

In brief, Gomez set out to show others how creative activities provide a measureable boost to their mood and physical well being. 

“My senior paper is on how art helps with mental and physical health,” said Gomez, who will graduate from Colusa High School in June. “Art helps relieve stress, and helps to reduce anxiety and depression. It is also known to even help with heart disease by lowering blood pressure.” 

Gomez said she has always been an artist, as are many others in her family. 

“I love art,” she said. “I wanted to teach others to love art, too.” 

Gomez taught a free class for children on Friday. Her adult class on Saturday had a cover charge of $5 to help cover the cost of supplies. 

The finished product was the Monday night showing of a mix of her work and the work of her students. 

“With the kids, I wanted them to take what they learned in class and do it at home,” she said. “Art is something they can enjoy throughout their lives.” 

A great deal of work went into Gomez’s senior project. 

“Fifteen hours are required, but I put a lot more hours in,” she said. “Since I had my own artwork in my show, I put in some extra time to make it more detailed. I wanted it to be the best it could be.”

Sharon Reische, Gomez’s mentor and a volunteer at the Art Council gallery, said she was impressed with the effort Gomez put into her senior project, which also included accepting donations at the art show to help the Colusa High School Art Fund. The fund helps the district pay for art supplies like paints and canvass, Gomez said. 

“I think she’s done a wonderful job,” Reische said. “I’m glad to see art coming back to the high school. For a while I think it was lacking. They have a new art teacher out there now, so hopefully it will be reenergized.” 

The Colusa County Arts Council’s mission is to provide a countywide arts program to enrich all people living in the area. 

“The Arts Council’s main goal is to expand art through the community,” Reische said. 

Ivon Hernandez, 9, of Colusa, attended Gomez’s art class on Friday, the last day of Easter break.

“I loved it,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been drawing my whole life. I think I’ve been drawing dolls since I was one year old.”

Hernandez said she hopes to put her artistic talent to work when she grows up by being a make-up artist or a dress designer.

Reische said the Colusa County Arts Council has other events planned, including Art in the Park this summer, and themed monthly art projects. The next will be making Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. 

“All our events for kids are free,” she said. “We don’t want money to be a barrier for any child who wants to participate.” ■