Using Art to Cope with Trauma

As a sophomore in high school, Katelyn Moore, ’11, was shown a newspaper article by their mother about how war veterans were using art therapy to cope with PTSD. From that point forward, Moore has clung to the belief that art can heal.

This belief is what later led Moore to pursue a degree in studio art and psychology at Meredith so they could become an art therapist. They also went on to receive their master’s in art therapy from George Washington University. Today, Moore works with a private practice providing trauma-focused therapy to children, adolescents, and adult clients.

“A lot of people describe me as having a calm presence, especially in the midst of a crisis,” Moore said. “I enjoy teaching people coping skills that can improve their quality of life.”

Moore also does grant work for the LGTBQ Center of Durham, providing therapy for their Host Home Program (HHP). HHP works with young adults from the ages of 18 to 24 who are experiencing housing instability in Durham County and the Triangle region. The work that HHP does supports anti-oppression, intersectionality, and trauma-informed care – all missions that Moore incorporates in their work as an art therapist.

Moore pursues art outside of their work as a therapist, too. Their most recent work includes a mural in downtown Raleigh on the doors of local business, The Zen Succulent.

The painting was made in response to the latest killings of unarmed Black people, following a night of protests that left many local businesses in shambles. Broken windows were patched with plywood, creating blank canvases for artists such as Moore.

The mural depicts a field of succulents growing against a yellow background. Under the ground, the names of Black people killed in recent years are written on the seeds of the plants. Written across the mural, are the words of poet Dinos Christianopoulos: “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”

Though the piece was highly visible, Moore doesn’t see the mural as an accomplishment, but simply a response to the countless years of racial injustice that BIPOC have faced.

Moore told Walter Magazine, which featured the mural in a recent issue, “I have a lot of rage, and the broken windows reflect more of my current emotions than the paint on the boards.”

The contrast between the sadness of the names on the seeds and the beautiful flowers above them is intentional. “I hope that people see the agony, trauma, and hurt underneath the beauty,” said Moore.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
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