Daily Video

June 24, 2020

Can art help us overcome trauma?


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To watch the video on the Student Reporting Labs website, click here.

Summary: Lola is a 22-year old aspiring musician and artist who uses art as an outlet for confronting childhood trauma experienced while in foster care. 

  • Depression and anxiety in children and teenagers have increased over time.
  • Diagnoses of depression and anxiety are more common as children and teenagers get older.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Essential question: How does art help people address personal pain (like break ups, loneliness, abandonment and mental health struggles) and societal pain (like injustice or anxiety over a pandemic)?
  2. Who are some artists you know of who communicate pain and trauma through their art (including musical artists, actors, visual artists or others)? Why do you think making or appreciating art about painful subjects can sometimes help us feel better?
  3. In the video, Lola mentions finding the support and resources she needed at Covenant House. What are some potential sources of creative and emotional support in your community?
  4. Media literacy: This story is a feature ( = a news story that takes a special look at one topic or person) on one artist. Why do you think the producers of the story chose this format to communicate a message about art’s healing capacity? What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of a feature? How do you think the fact that the producer is also a young person affected the story?

Extension Activities: Have your students explore the ways art and creativity can make a difference in their own lives.

Option 1: 

  1. In a journal, spend five minutes brainstorming at least five outlets of creativity that you’d be interested in pursuing or trying.
  2. From your list, pick the one that stands out the most. What do you need in order to do it? (For example, if your outlet was “painting,” you might need paint, some paper or canvas, a brush and space to paint.)
    • Do you have access to what you need? If you don’t, how might you get access to these resources? Ask your teacher for help if you’re stuck.
  3. Spend thirty minutes being creative! Afterwards, debrief—what did you enjoy? What was most difficult?
    • For your next class period, either bring in your creative work to share (if possible) or bring a paragraph-long debriefing response to your creative experience. 

Option 2:

  1. Think of an artist who deals with painful subject matter and who you find inspiring. Spend some time researching the artist—find interviews, articles, early work, etc. 
  2. Compile your research into a report of at least two paragraphs. 
    • In the first paragraph, include biographical information on the artist and an overview of their work. 
    • In the second paragraph, answer the question: What is it about this person’s art that makes it successful at communicating painful subjects?

Today’s Daily News Story was written by EXTRA’s intern Carolyn McCusker, a senior at Amherst College.

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