Center for Visual Arts set for first open house since pandemic’s start

Published 11:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

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It’s been nearly two years since the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts held an Art after Dark event, as things were shut down due to the pandemic. That will change Thursday, Aug. 18, as the doors will open at 6 p.m. for “Making Matters: The Therapeutic Qualities of Art, Community and Creative Expression.”

Before that, residents will have a chance to walk through, as part of a community open house at 11 a.m. Complimentary refreshments and Art on the Go activity packs will be provided throughout the day as an accompaniment to a full slate of exhibitions in the LCVA’s downtown galleries.


Making Matters is described by LCVA executive director Rachel Talent Ivers as “a creative gathering in a social setting.” Participants will explore the benefits of regularly including creative expression in one’s life while panelists discuss how they have adapted the tools and techniques of creative expression to foster emotional well-being, build self-confidence, or process difficult events.

“Art therapy puts voice to an experience that cannot be adequately captured in words due to the artist’s age, trauma history, ability, or other unique characteristic,” said panel moderator Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay.

The workshop is inspired by the LCVA’s current exhibition My Ukraine, which features work created during the outbreak of the current war in Ukraine.

Panelist Anastasiia Cifers traveled with her husband Luther throughout the country to aid fellow citizens in their escape to Poland. Once in Warsaw, where housing and care was provided, the Cifers gave the children art supplies so that they might process their pain, anxiety, and confusion through art. Every evening these children – all under the age of 14 – create works of art to find some sense of comfort during a traumatic and violent time.

“Created by children, the My Ukraine exhibition speaks volumes about the power of community and the importance of art as an expression of fear, anger, and hope. All are enhanced – the viewer increases understanding and empathy and the artist processes their personal experience which promotes eventual growth and healing,” remarked Dr. Walls-McKay.


In addition to Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay (Dean of Wellness and Director of Longwood University’s Counseling and Psychological Services), the panel includes individuals who have incorporated therapeutic art techniques into their daily practice: Mindy Osborn (Upper School Counselor and Registrar, Fuqua School), Todd Stonnell (Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist), Anastasiia Cifers (Gender, Social Inclusion and Governance Expert, VNG International, Kyiv, Ukraine, Co-founder, Cifers Foundation), and Emily Grabiec (LCVA Director of Education and Outreach).

A reception will follow the panel from 7:00-8:00 p.m.