Guest Speaker Discusses Mental Health and Healing Through Art
Chicago-based artist Matt Bodett, who uses art to start conversations about mental illness and healing, spoke to Loyola Academy students in Studio Art I and Studio Art II: Art and Advocacy, an Ignatian Service Learning course.
Bodett, who teaches at Loyola University, Northeastern Illinois and the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, creates pieces that explore his personal experience with schizophrenia. Early in his career, Bodett realized that he could break stigmas around mental illness and facilitate healthy discussions with art that portrayed his own struggles. It’s often the case that caring individuals want to start a conversation about mental illness, but do not know how to approach the subject. Bodett uses his art as a safe platform to do so.
“Mr. Bodett’s visit challenged the traditional definition of art because he showed that art can be appreciated for more than its beauty,” reflects Amy Hoover ’18. “It can have emotional power, tell a story or advocate for change.”
Bodett spoke to students about the power of art to promote social change and help others—a particularly important message for Art as Advocacy students, who create art aimed at having an influence in the world. For the students in Studio 1, Bodett focused the discussion on the fundamentals of the artistic process.
“From this experience, I learned that art is more than just painting a picture,” says senior Studio I artist Patrick Sullivan ’18. “It has a much deeper meaning, like Mr. Bodett’s message. This keeps with our Studio Art I theme and makes art accessible to all.”
“He had interesting visuals that represented powerful messages,” Catherine Dooley ’18 reflects. “His art challenged me because it was very different from anything I’d seen before. I think his authenticity and uniqueness made the work more meaningful to me.”
Art as Advocacy is the latest addition to Loyola’s Service Learning Program, which incorporates service experiences central to Jesuit education as a component of the courses. Art as Advocacy challenges student artists to explore new ideas and transform their perceptions through art. Students are empowered to investigate contemporary issues and deepen critical thinking through the artistic process. Other Service Learning course offerings include Honors Environmental Science, Spanish Immersion and Justice Seminar among others. To learn more about service learning, click here.