The one thing you have that nobody else has is your story

The Importance of Reminiscing

Posted on February 18, 2015


The group focus at one of my programs has been on using recycled materials for inspiration. Who knew that a stash of styrofoam cubes could evolve into such a beautiful creation! My seniors created this church. It’s been a project that has spanned several weeks and resulted in an overall increase in group participation! During our first session, we painted styrofoam shapes and glued them together to create the church building. When I asked the group what the church needed next, several ladies responded, “The church needs members!” So, we created members using clothespins and fabric scraps. The project continued to evolve and the participants decided at various points that the church also needed a piano, a ceiling fan, a steeple (made from favorite hymns), a pastor & pastor’s wife, pews, the church choir, and stained-glass windows.

During this creative time, I have worked with participants on reminiscing about church life and the role that church has played in each participant’s lifetime. We’ve talked about church attire, falling asleep during a sermon, and the overall level of meaning that a church may or may not have played in each individual’s life. During one session, we listened to gospel music and let me tell you that It gave me chills to hear several participants (who are often very quiet and minimally engaged) begin to sing along with deep southern gospel tunes. This group has some soul y’all!

I think one of my favorite components to this project is how many of my ladies attempt to stick the church members and choir group into their purses! Each session, before group is over I have to count the number of clothespin dolls and check pursues to make sure no one is running away with our group art! And the typical response when I do find a choir member or two in someone’s bag: “Well, how did that get in there?” and then everyone starts to laugh.

Take time to notice the detail and care that my seniors put into this project. I often find that with this population, dimensional activities have a greater impact than other activities. The act of holding the clay/ clothespin/ etc. is very engaging. While art therapy does not focus on the product as much as the process of creating, I can certainly state that this group has been truly proud of their end product (as they should be)!

For you shall go out in JOY and be led forth in PEACE…

Posted on January 15, 2015

Peace and JoyI have been completely fascinated with Starlings this fall. They have been all over our neighborhood and many times flock to our yard and cover every tree branch in our little backyard forest …Wikipedia describes them as such: “Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious.”— I love that description because it comes across as something I can aspire to. And yet, another website describes their wonder more as a nuisance:

Starlings are considered pests because they nest in places you do not want them….Starlings will nest in almost anything that resembles a cavity, such as a hole in a building or sign, a bird house, a hollow in a tree or a crack in rocks. You will definitely know when you have a flock of Starlings outside your window as they are quite boisterous, annoyingly loud and travel in large groups.

I learned that these large groups are called murmurations. I found this video taken by some girls in Ireland who captured starling wonder and I am totally in awe:

As I’ve witnessed these swarms of birds at various times, I am reminded of two things:  That the nest of unwanted caveties holding confusion, chaos, and anxiety in our own lives exists (a reminder that is magnified when you can hear Starlings squawking in unison just above your head!).

Alternatively, I’m reminded of the swarming capacity of both peace and joy (Did you experience it too when watching that video?!). Isaiah 55:12  mentions “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;…” If we allow for it, seek it, and give voice to it, joy and peace can have the same overtaking affect as anxiety and confusion (but so often we allow our fears to guide us!) If we seek and give voice to joy and peace–those gospel truths can overtake too. Seeking may look like conscious efforts to keeping your eyes on Christ, feeling small against mountains, re-framing a situation, being encouraged by community, or making lists of gratitude. My engaging in healthy coping, we set ourselves up to better experience the peace and joy that is ours for the taking. I hope that in this new year, you will make room for the strength of the Lord to lead you in the direction of joy and peace.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

♥ Much love,

Art Stories Studio

Umbrellas for Peace in Alaska

Posted on August 30, 2014

Umbrellas for Peace in Alaska was a group collaboration. The project was an adaptation from the world-wide organization spreading the word of peace by using the umbrella as a metaphor for protection. It does not discriminate, and all people regardless of race, age, gender or country are safe under the umbrella. When working with adolescents and the topic of conflict resolution, this was a fun project that promoted great discussion about promoting a community of peace.


Art Stories Studio: Now Living in a Postcard

Posted on October 2, 2013

Sometimes, you have to leave what you know behind, all the while embracing hope.

Cleaving to different, exciting, overwhelming, scary, essential, joyful, great… You won’t know until you step out into the unknown.

It could be quiet or loud; small or big

It could be expansive, eye-opening and brimming with beauty…

This new story could be simple or complicated. It could be deep or shallow… You won’t know until you step out into the unknown.

I stepped out… and it’s made me stronger. It’s made my story richer; my heart full!

It’s a beauty to see and behold; it’s a tangible taste of glory and heaven.  (Ps. 18:19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.)

I’m in love with where the Lord has brought me; where he has opened doors, allowing me to share my gifts in Anchorage, Alaska.  (Ps. 16 You hold my lot; the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.)

Starting this business, Art Stories Studio, has been the beginning of living out a good story and using art to bring healing and life to others; from Birmingham to Anchorage. Not the story I intended to write, but a story I’m thrilled to be living out; adventures around each turn. New perspective, new joy, new hopes and visions for life. (Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.)

The mountains change every day and I am a witness to them.

I am a witness to something so grand and beautiful and large and scary… this must be how ants feel.  (“The perspective of smallness that cultivates surprised wonder–grows gratitude, yields joy…” From Ann Voskamps book, 1000 Gifts).

Thanks for supporting Art Stories Studio with your thoughts and prayers! Our first year in Birmingham, Alabama was great and filled with opportunities at UAB,  Samford University, Childrens of Alabama Hospital, VSA Alabama, various schools and senior facilities around the city, and many individual clients. I’m so thankful to continue the vision for this place wherever the Lord leads. Please continue to lift up the work being done through this facet!

Get out there and live your art stories!

Upcoming Workshop

Posted on May 26, 2013

Upcoming Workshop

Mindful Roots: Awakening the heart through movement & art

The Yoga Circle
1425 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd S
Birmingham, AL 35205

Saturday, June 15, 2013 from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Nicki Noftz, Pilates Instructor & Owner of Soulnicity, will awaken the body through various mindful movements, utilizing aspects of both Pilates & yoga. We will focus on connecting the body and mind to create better support & grounding, essentially tapping into a deeper self-awareness.

Sarah Margaret Wade, Art Therapist & owner of Art Stories Studio, will awaken the artist in you through creative expression of the mind. We will explore our personal strengths & weaknesses, letting our voice be heard & better known.

*Important: No previous drawing, painting, meditating or Pilates/yoga experience needed! All art supplies will be provided.