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Amaal Alhifzi is the founder of Breathe by Art, an initiative aiming to promote art healing in our community. She is an architecture undergraduate student, with a concentration in art and architecture history. Amaal is interested in studying the depth of the relationship that connects humans and art, and they have utilized it as a communication tool throughout history. Besides art healing session and classes, she is currently working on various free projects under social entrepreneurship.

Tell us more about art healing.

Unlike art therapy, art healing is the process of providing simple and soothing techniques of making visual art in order to make the artist and client relieve stress, connect with their inner voice, and generally express and cope with emotions nonverbally.  

How was your journey in this field initiated?

My journey started when I was required to work on a high school graduation project. I thought that I was going to invent something called “art therapy,” but I was shocked to find out that it was not only an existing professional field, but it was also taught as a Masters and PhD at prestigious universities. After doing more intensive research, I found a simpler, more approachable, and less intimidating field called art healing. I took intensive short courses online and abroad to be able to host my own sessions and workshops beyond the grad project.

How would you describe Breathe by Art?

Breathe by Art’s vision is to make art healing easy and accessible for everyone. It is a social initiative that promotes are healing and teach people tools they can take beyond the sessions and practice it on their own. It started as a research paper, then small workshops focusing on mandalas (a certain art healing technique), then with the encouragement of the Humming Tree Community, where I was an intern at the time, I was able to expand Breathe by Art to become a community. The sessions not only included unique art techniques, such as collage and mandala making, but also includec open mics, and special guests who talked about their own ways of healing and connecting with themselves.

How has Breathe by Art helped you personally in aspects of mental and psychological health, and what was its impact on your surroundings?

The initiative alone did not impact my emotional and mental health directly; the community it created did. The sense of unity it allowed to create, and the impact it is making on people’s personalities is what I consider rewarding. As children, we all loved to draw, up until we were told -mostly by adults- that art had certain standards that we needed to follow. In our art healing sessions, our main goal is to remind people of the power of art and its effect on our wellbeing, in hopes that we all bring our kindergarten unapologetic artists back to life again. On a personal level, I can say that in the process of founding Breathe by Art, it was the one who found me. At a specific stage of confusion, my research pushed me into reading about sacred geometry, which lead me to end up studying Architecture.

How would you describe our community’s reaction to Breathe by Art? Can we persuade people with the importance of art healing?

In a world that moves so fast, people are starving for slowing down and discovering themselves. Society was very welcoming and supportive. From the very beginning, people either came in with excitement or skepticism. In both cases, they came out with unforgettable experiences. It may not have been about art itself, but the thrill of breaking the fear of the blank paper.

What are your next steps?

The plan for 2019 is to get more professional feedback and mentorship on art healing in order to keep developing the content and agenda of the sessions. On a larger scale, I am working more to learn the link of space and emotion, which deals with art, healing, and architecture.