Art therapist hosts Milwaukee exhibit, shares proceeds with Foundation09/20/21 02:40:pm
Art therapist Mike Hoelzer recently exhibited a series of artwork at the Milwaukee Art Therapy Collective, a private practice art therapy clinic and gallery space. Half of all proceeds raised during the show from the sale of artwork benefited the Rogers Behavioral Health Foundation, as Mike wanted to help support it in its ongoing work with patient care.
“They do so much work, especially the Angel Fund,” says Mike, adding that he has seen firsthand the stress that patients face, especially when they have insurance issues, and the Foundation comes to the rescue providing funds so that patients receive the care they need.
Mike, who works at Eating Disorder Recovery residential care in Oconomowoc, is a firm believer that art therapists should be practicing artists to stay connected with their own creative abilities.
He had originally planned the show to be held in March of 2020, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. The opening reception was finally held on August 6 of this year.
“After losing so much from COVID, just being able to hang the work, hold the show, and get back together with the gallery owners, families, and friends was amazing,” he says.
Art has always played a major role in Mike’s life. As a young child, he recognized that making art was helpful to a family member who struggled with depression. Mike also enjoyed watching painter and television host Bob Ross with his grandmother. Eventually, he would go on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Mike recognized that he would never be satisfied working in a cubicle. He always wanted to work in the community and with people.
For a while, Mike tried to work as a freelance artist while working as a cook in a nursing home. It was there that he learned about art therapy.
“I saw this person playing guitar with a group of people,” Mike says. “Everyone was really enjoying themselves! I was amazed by what I saw. After the group, I asked the person what their profession was. They told me that they were a music therapist. I had never heard of music therapy. As we talked, I shared that I have an undergraduate degree in fine arts. The music therapist encouraged me to explore the field of art therapy.”
Mike enrolled at Mount Mary University, completed his internship here at Rogers, and graduated from Mount Mary in 1999 with his Master of Science in art therapy.
Mike says that he really enjoys the connection that art therapy has with patient care, creativity, and healing.
“When I found the profession of art therapy, it was like the sky opened up for me and I found home,” he says.
Some areas where Mike uses art therapy to aid in a patient’s treatment are emotional expression, coping and leisure skills, problem-solving, and self-esteem.
“It’s tremendous what art therapy can do for a patient’s self-esteem,” he says. “You can teach basic skills to get them from ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘I just did it!’—and that can pay great dividends in their recovery. It can teach people to cope with frustration, assert their needs, ask for help, and eventually instill a sense of hope. That’s how art making, and art therapy all tie in.”