i recieved this great email from my good friend Elka this past weekend. She is such an inspiration not only to me but to many heartbroken and abused women. I myself have not ever been abused but i can feel very closely for those who have. So elka is a printmaker, designer, art educator, and researcher currently teaching at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. i first met her as my Illustration professor a few years back at college, there was just something about her that i could relate to on a more psychological level. It turned out that at the time i was haveing some difficulties taming depression and anxiety/panic disorder. Trying to find therapy and medications, elka was always there to help me us art in a way to heal my mental breakdowns. She now has grown her ideas and willingness to heal others into a non profit organization called Art 4 Empowerment. It's her mission to empower women through creative expression. In fall 2004, Elka teamed-up with The Women's Center in Carbondale, IL and launched an art program that serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The program relies on the transformational impact of visual expression that is particularly beneficial to those who are not comfortable talking about themselves. The creative process is a means to reflect on the self, life and to reconnect with emotions that have been numbed in order to survive trauma, abuse or violence.
I was lucky enough to be able to express my feelings of struggle a year ago by doing a small, simple piece (above) for a4e's first show entitled, Heal Your Soul, 2005 Survivors' art exhibition. Even though i am not a surviver of abuse, i am a surviver of a silent killer named Depression and it truly ment the world to me to be able to share my own personal struggles with other women who have personal struggles of a different nature. Definatley check out the a4e site and, it's a very powerful and inspiring organization to be apart of! Thank You Elka for letting me be apart of it!