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What Is the Connection between Self-Esteem and Art?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2018
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The connection between self-esteem and art is an important one. Creating any type of art, from painting and drawing, to writing in a journal or playing a musical instrument, can all help people to build their self-esteem. Some people with low self-esteem also have difficulty expressing themselves, but find that it is much easier to do so through art. Not only that, but some people are able to get to know themselves better through the art they produce, and begin to feel a sense of accomplishment. The connection between self-esteem and art can be found independently, but it is often used in psychotherapy sessions as well as in group homes for people with physical or developmental disabilities.

Art programs in schools exist for a number of reasons, but part of this is because producing art is a wonderful form of self expression, and helps to increase self-esteem. Students who may be quiet and withdrawn in class can often express themselves through art, even if they have trouble raising their hands and speaking up. Arts programs are not just limited to literal fine arts classes, such as painting and drawing. Learning to play a musical instrument or singing in a chorus might be a good way for students to boost their self-esteem; other students might enjoy creative writing, for example.

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The possibilities for enhancing the connection between self-esteem and art are virtually limitless. Individuals who are going through a difficult time in life will often undertake new art projects, either independently, or under the guidance of a therapist, to process their feelings and boost self-esteem. Even if people have to force themselves to start a project, they will often find that they get more inspired the more they work on it. Not only does the actual act of making art increase feelings of self-esteem, but people are also able to gain a sense of accomplishment from the finished product.

Another common area where the connections between self-esteem and art are explored is in group homes or classroom settings for physically or developmentally disabled people of all ages. Teachers will work one on one or in groups with these individuals, encouraging them and providing basic instruction in creating art. Again, this allows individuals to express themselves when they may have difficulty doing so in everyday life, and it also provides that same sense of accomplishment. Teachers in any type of classroom setting should remember how self-esteem and art are linked, and should encourage children to express themselves in creative ways.

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Mor
Post 3

@Ana1234 - I think that is one of the difficulties that counselors face when they try to integrate art into their sessions.

I remember having a self esteem lesson when I was in high school and we were encouraged to draw a picture of ourselves and then note the way we did it (so, for example, did we draw ourselves as happy or sad).

Even though the art itself wasn't really the point, some of the students became upset over the whole thing because they felt like they weren't very good at drawing.

The teacher basically said to them in the end, look, some of you don't have neat handwriting and we don't mark you on that if you are doing a math assignment. It's the same thing here. You should be trying to improve your art skills, but that's not the point of this lesson.

Ana1234
Post 2

@pleonasm - The important thing, though, is to keep art as a low pressure subject. As soon as you start grading and comparing kids by their art, you build the potential for them to start feeling like they are being judged and they don't want to do it.

I do think self improvement can be done through art, but care has to be taken to keep the focus on the person and their journey, rather than the end result.

pleonasm
Post 1

To me, the most important connection between self esteem and art activities is the obvious fact that practice improves art technique. So many people declare themselves bad at art (and many other subjects) because they weren't born as "natural" artists.

But in reality, almost any skill can be learned and improved by almost anyone. Children should be taught that ability is extremely malleable and art is a good way to do this.

I am very careful to reassure my nephew that he isn't the best at writing because he doesn't practice enough, but he is very good at math because he practices. This helps him to see he can become good at anything he wants to be good at.

Art is a low pressure subject so it can be used to demonstrate this very easily.

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