Rogers’ art sculpture awarded top prize at eating disorder symposium for third year in a row

05/03/17 03:29:am
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Two FOCUS Program staff members earned the first place award at the 2017 Imagine Me Beyond What You See sculpture competition, presented at the International Association of Eating Disorder Professional’s (iaedp) Symposium. This is the third year in a row Rogers’ staff have won the top prize. What made this year’s submission so special? Well, it’s alive!

Iaedp invites art therapists, students and the public to artistically create mannequins that reflect their perception of beauty and body image. In January 2015, Lacie West, Art Therapist; and Mary Sireno, Recreational Therapist; began building a topiary sculpture made of herbs, moss and other materials. FOCUS patients played a major role in the building, planting and continued care of the sculpture.

“We wanted to portray the idea of growth and self-care, which is a message that fits well with the FOCUS program,” says West. “Not everyone in the program has an eating disorder, but everyone can benefit from positive change. We just loved the metaphor.”

As the humid summer months came around, keeping up with the life size sculpture’s watering schedule became increasingly difficult. “Even missing a day of watering could dry out the herbs,” says Sireno. “The whole process took about 30 minutes.”

At one point, the herbs began to wither and die. “A resident who was interested in nature asked if she could water the sculpture daily as a behavioral activation activity for her treatment,” says West. “She was able to bring it back. It was a really powerful message: if you neglect your recovery, your quality of life starts to diminish. But after you begin your self-care again, you can see the positive effect on the body.”

West explains she learned just how difficult maintaining your gains can be. “You have to practice what you preach,” she says. “We really can’t expect our residents to put care and effort into something if we don’t model that ourselves.”

The patients weren’t the only ones who benefited. “As mental health professionals, we got to experience recovery in a different way,” says Sireno. “Our patients are in programming for the majority of the day and they really put in the effort. So for us to complain about thirty minutes of watering every day… I think it humbled us a little bit more and helped us connect to those we care for.”

As for next year’s sculpture submission, West already has plans in the works.

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