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Art That Truly Saves Us • by Anna-Marie Still

Anna-Marie StillART SAVES seems so much more personal to me than it did just a mere 15 months ago when I wrote my first ART SAVES story. Reading that first story again now, I remember being at that exciting point of self-discovery. I even used the phrase “I’m in it” … back then I thought I was neck deep “in it.” When I think about it now, I chuckle and think, “Silly girl, you barely had your toe “in it”!

Life-Changing Events
I find it mind blowing and ironic that sometimes we create a plan for ourselves … a good plan for growth that makes so much sense we can actually see it playing out in our minds. What we don’t foresee, however, are life-changing events that turn everything upside-down and make art go from something that simply makes us feel better about ourselves to something that truly SAVES us from the backlash of really tough situations.

In the past 15 months, I have been bombarded with a number of, what many would consider, highly stress-producing events. I found the strength to leave a very unhealthy marriage of 16 years in which I was intensely, verbally abused and mistreated. I sought solace in a deep connection with an amazing soul who, without warning, decided he could take this life no more and shot himself in the head. I quietly and patiently endured a five-month search for the perfect live/work studio space in preparation to leave my marriage. My half-sister found and contacted me on New Years Eve, my grandfather passed away, my car windshield got hit by a bullet while I was driving on the highway … and well, you get the picture, right?

Holy cow! I could have never foreseen any of this 15 months ago … so many HUGE events creating such emotional impact … I am completely convinced that having the responsibilities of solo and group art shows to prepare for is how I made it though those chaotic events. The responsibility kept me focused and the release of the artwork soothed my soul … A few of the paintings I created during that time have major significance to me … “Feather” from my Washed Ashore solo show and the Rhino painting that I just finished a few days before writing this story.

Reaching Down Deeper
“The dissecting part isn’t always pretty”… words I also wrote in my original ART SAVES story … the depth of that statement is so much more today … sometimes we have no other choice but to reach down deeper than we know exists on a daily basis to come to some semblance of order …

Through this crazy transition, many people would question me asking, “Have you done any art?” which I found to be quite irritating, overwhelming, and exhausting because oftentimes I did not have the wherewithal to even pick up a paintbrush. The amazing thing about the healing power of Art is that sometimes it happens when it appears that nothing is happening at all. On the contrary, we are simply marinating in it, it cannot be forced out; we have to relax and wait for it to flow out.

Whenever I am late sending someone a handmade birthday card and/or gift, I tell the recipient “Hey, you can’t rush art.” Honestly, I use that phrase mostly to joke about my tardiness, however, there is a lot of truth in it. Just because you may not be actively creating something does not mean that you are not experiencing the healing power of art. Healing happens over time and sometimes the most powerful healing comes from the art that is taking place very quietly within. Be easy on yourself, relax a little, and let it flow.

To learn more about Anna-Marie Still, visit


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