Simon owns Mariposa Arts, which aims to make the arts more inclusive, regardless of a person’s economic or social status. She says the evolution of healing through the arts has been organic, resulting in large part from the isolation that so many people have experienced over the past 2 ½ years due to COVID-19.
“It has become so obvious to everyone that we all need ways to deal with stress,” Simon told WHYY. “During the pandemic, people have very naturally turned to the arts.”
The work with Latinos, most of whom are English learners, is funded in large part by a $30,000 grant from the Delaware Community Foundation’s Arsht-Cannon Fund. The money pays for the instructors as well as the art supplies.
The message for those who attend, for whatever reason, is that art is a creative outlet to foster growth and, when needed, healing.
“It’s really something that can be helpful,” Simon said. “We’re not looking for mastery of any particular art form. We just present it as a possible tool and see what resonates with people. »
“I think we find success because we try to present it in a very friendly, non-threatening way,” she said.
Rebecca Howell, head of creative engagement at the museum, agrees.
“We’re talking about art being part of the wellness toolbox,” Howell said. “We don’t offer art therapy. There are no counseling sessions. We’re really giving people tools to help them deal with what they’re going through, whether it’s medical trauma or environmental trauma or just a lack of resources.
Healing through the arts is for Spanish speakers
Serendipity provided the spark for Simon’s alliance with the museum.
In 2016, she participated in the museum’s storytelling program on immigration. While there, the native of Argentina became interested in an exhibition of Latin American artists and met with museum employees and contributors.
“The museum, very graciously, asked me if there were any programs I had ideas for,” recalls Simon.
Simon did it, thanks to her friendship with Luisa Ortiz, one of the artists she met through the museum. Ortiz had a family member with cancer.
“We came up with the idea of gifting art to cancer patients and survivors and their caregivers because families really go through a lot when they look at their loved ones,” Simon said.