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Through Art, Family Learns How to Communicate Better

July 7, 2016

Community, Families, HSVS, Impact Stories, Youth


From waiting tables to working in a factory, 69 year old Fe did everything she could to support her four biological children. Fe adopted her daughter’s children when they were infants. Fe was raising children again and when reaching the challenging teenage years, seventeen year old Aixa and fifteen year old Miraida were struggling to communicate with their mom. Fe also was coping with the loss of her 9-year-old grandson in a hit and run.

With the help of HSVS Art Therapist Linda Votruba, Fe, Aixa and Miraida opened up to one another through their sessions. Fe threaded yarn to create macramé from her native Puerto Rico, Aixa handcrafted earrings from recycled jewelry and Miraida sketched an abstract design. Each of their artistic styles has come a long way. Their work, which is bolder and more personally expressive, yet stylistically similar, is reflective of their ability to speak freely, as well as their ever growing ties as a family. “Through this process, we learned how to listen to each other without judgment,” explained Aixa, who graduated Lincoln High School and will study cosmetology. Miraida, who also has a flair for the creative, loves songwriting, dancing and the family’s art therapy sessions. “I see life as art,” said Miraida, whose communication with her mom and school attendance has improved.

The HSVS Shirley Tanyhill Family Service Center prevents the placement of children into foster care. Votruba, who is a licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist, facilitated the sessions, as well as made home visits. From teaching Fe how to advocate for special education services for her children to encouraging the girls to pursue their interests at school, Linda was a resource to the family. “Sometimes, we experience so much that it’s difficult to process our feelings. But the art helps us say what we need to without the words,” said Votruba. “And then, when they’re ready, the conversation flows.”