Everybody's an artist

February 26, 2016
Claire Campbell
photographer: Hannah Pietrick

From morning until late afternoon, the University of Florida campus and surrounding area vibrated on a higher plane Feb. 26 as the entire 352 region reveled in a day-long celebration of communitywide art-making.

Senior citizens at the Millhopper branch of the Alachua County Library District hunched over adult coloring books. Visitors to the Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention on South Main Street drew zentangles and transformed them into spinning tops. At the YMCA on Northwest 34th Boulevard, people of all ages experienced tap dance as an art form for healing body, mind and spirit.

At other venues, artists-for-a-day drummed, created chalk art on sidewalks and engaged in “yarn bombing,” a type of graffiti that uses colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn rather than paint.

The wide assortment of activities, collectively known as 352Creates, demonstrated that creative endeavors can be fun for everyone while offering life- and health-enhancing opportunities for participants, said Jill Sonke, director of UF’s Center for Arts in Medicine.

“We know that this community is uniquely creative and that being creative – even for just a few minutes a day – makes us all healthier,” Sonke said. “We wanted 352Creates to show that engaging in creativity is a fun and easy way to improve health and happiness, and to build a more vibrant, thriving community.”

All of the activities were free and accessible to everyone, regardless of skill or experience, which appealed to 25-year-old Sherie Laurense.

Laurense, a third-year UF grad student studying audiology, had stopped by the stone mandala activity on the lawn of the Infirmary Building. Concentrating closely on a black stone not much larger than a quarter, she used gold and silver metallic Sharpies to create her design.

“I am a creative person, but I normally don’t have time to do arts and craft things,” Laurense said. “It’s great that they’re doing this during midterm week because it’s something different and relaxing.”

Catherine Seemann, communications coordinator for the Student Health Care Center, said she’d spoken to another student who wanted to try the activity but was afraid she’d be late for class. Once the student began painting her stone, she was hooked.

“She kind of forgot about the rest of the world,” Seemann said, “but that’s the point.”

Organizations participating in 352Creates included UF Health, Arts in Medicine programs at UF, the city of Gainesville, Alachua County Public Schools, the Cade Museum, Alachua County Libraries, UF’s College of the Arts, UF’s College of Journalism and Communication and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For photos and more details on the day’s activities, visit www.352Creates.com or find the 352Creates group on Facebook.

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