Art therapists working with Uvalde shooting survivors: ‘It’s okay to be broken to still create something beautiful’
Art therapists in Austin are working on a special project involving children, parents and teachers who have faced this trauma.
AUSTIN, Texas – After another mass shooting in the United States, many are thinking of families in Uvalde who are still struggling 10 months after the Robb Elementary School shooting.
Now local artists are finding ways to help the community heal. With the tragedy in Uvalde and most recently in Nashville, therapists are aware of the long-lasting effects these shootings can have.
Art therapists in Austin are developing a special project with children, parents and teachers who have faced this trauma, and they are using thousands and thousands of tiles to help in the process.
“What a mosaic is is that it’s okay to be broken to still create something beautiful. And all these parts come together. This is all of your community stories coming together,” said Wanda Montemayor, the program manager of the “Uvalde love project.”
It’s a project that art therapist Montemayor wanted to create for everyone affected by the Robb Elementary School shooting.
“Talk therapy really only hits the frontal cortex. So my favorite analogy is that your brain is a house and you can only be in one room at a time,” Montemayor said.
She notes that many children and teachers have not received the immediate help they might have needed when it came to working on the mental issues they were facing.
Montemayor created the Uvalde Love Project, a mosaic that pays homage to the nature and beauty around us.
Montemayor said that not only are these students getting help, but teachers and their parents are getting involved and seeing real-time changes in their children.
“One parent said, ‘My child sleeps in his own bed now,’ which is a huge deal. It’s a huge deal,” Montemayor said.
Montemayor and her group go to Uvalde three times a month to design the tiles with the children and offer group therapy.
Counselor Kami Land said she sees the progress these families are making.
“They can bounce off each other and offer that support. Even long after we’re gone, they’ll have those connections,” said Land, a fellow art therapist on the project.
PHOTOS: Uvalde Love Project Healing through Art
Whether it’s butterflies, tree trunks, or rivers, each tile is customized as it works.
“We have 19 small glass mosaic butterflies and then two larger ones to represent the teachers,” Montemayor said.
Both say they know the city wants to move forward, but also doesn’t want to be left behind.
“Uvalde doesn’t want to be remembered as the town where the school shooting happened. They want to be remembered as a kind, friendly community that makes great honey,” said Montemayor.
She ensures that these tiles can be part of the journey to help Uvalde heal.
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/special-reports/uvalde-school-shooting/uvalde-art-therapy/269-6b60d5f4-188b-4585-994e-31b0cbe2d28a Art therapists working with Uvalde shooting survivors: ‘It’s okay to be broken to still create something beautiful’