Paint away the pressure: Rainbow Center holds pre-finals art therapy event

"Express to Destress" was held to encourage art therapy before finals. (The Daily Campus)

Students create a sense of calm amid the hectic exam season by painting, molding clay and coloring hypnotic mandalas at the Rainbow Center’s “Express to Destress” event Wednesday.

Brittney Bernardi, a 5th-semester psychology major, and Ravneet Gill, a 3rd-semester psychology and human rights major, organized the event. The Rainbow Center had paint, colored pencils and clay in all colors of the rainbow donated by staff members to promote student expression.

“Therapists use art to interpret their client’s wellbeing,” Gill said.

Bernardi added that art therapy is known to increase self esteem, provide personal insight and reduce stress, which can have a negative impact on people’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

“Art therapy means healing,” Gill said. “I don’t have any artistic abilities but I like it and I think everyone can benefit from it.”

The mandalas, detailed printouts of floral circles, are particularly significant to art therapy.

“There’s no end and no beginning, just like life,” Gill said.

Bernardi, who painted a red flower with a rainbow aura worthy of any art gallery, said “Express to Destress” was part of the blue crew’s effort to support mental health and wellness on campus through activities like hiking and ice skating.

“These upcoming weeks are gonna be stressful and everyone feels that,” Bernardi said.

After the staff members overviewed art therapy as a creative method of managing stress, they had students introduce themselves with their name and preferred pronouns before spreading out throughout the Rainbow Center to channel their inner muse. Maretta Geeraghese, a 5th-semester biology major, attended the Rainbow Center’s event with her Asiantation mentee Rachel Abraham, a 1st-semester biology major.

“I think art is a lot of different things,” Geeraghese said. “Any excuse to spend time with her is a good one.”

Geeraghese and Abraham said they originally attended the event to meet a club requirement, but ending up sticking around longer than expected to work on their bold gradient designs and watercolor mandalas.

The Rainbow Center’s blue crew will also be handing out cooking at Homer Babbidge Library the weekend before finals as their last event of the season.

“The last events of the semester are centered around distressing,” Bernardi said. “So look for us that weekend, we’ll be passing things out and it’ll be free, it’s great.”

“Express to Destress” may only have lasted an hour or two, but it was more than enough to let students forget about exams for an afternoon.


Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.armstrong@uconn.edu.