Miami artist and educator Tracy Ellyn has been using her skills and knowledge of art in an unexpected way with a program called the Zen Tov Project. Its purpose is healing.
“I started the project about 20 years ago while contemplating Picasso’s quote, ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away’,” Ellyn said. “I had just enjoyed two decades of a fashion design career in New York and Europe, and it was time to share this gift, which was so freely given to me by the universe, with the next generation. In particular, I was interested in giving to those of talent or need who would otherwise not have such an opportunity.”
Having met Mark Knobel, president of The Life Quest Foundation, she joined forces with him to create the Zen Tov Project, which is the therapeutic arts branch of Life Quest. Life Quest advocates for individuals with a variety of impediments who are unable to navigate the maze of social services.
“My goal is to help people use the creative process to heal, improve their well-being and overcome their circumstances, whether physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, familial, bereavement, or any other life-related circumstances,” she said.
“The creative process is healing and life-enhancing, whether due to an inner state or an outer catastrophic event. We want to provide cathartic expression, as well as talent-related opportunities that could provide once-in-alifetime opportunities to fulfill their gift and/or move out of their circumstances.”
In the past she has through her project provided such things as art and school supplies to Haitian orphanages after the earthquake, art classes and art therapy consultations for special needs youth and adults, art scholarships for Miami’s magnet art students of talent who could not afford their class museum trips, and tickets to special performing art events to children and teens that were challenged physically, mentally or financially.
She has used art projects to help adolescent teens in substance abuse rehabilitation programs and various support groups, anti-bullying groups, and by donating gallery art pieces as fundraising for non-profit organizations. She also has done murals for in-need institutions that wish to promote their important work or enhance their environment.
“I will soon be doing projects with the Children’s Bereavement Center, helping youngsters express their grief through the creation of emotion sculptures and art journaling,” Ellyn said. “The goal of the Miami-based CBC is to enable children and families to acknowledge change and integrate loss with healthful grief and mourning. Later in the year, I plan to do artwork with foster children and teens in the areas of self-esteem and transitioning to adult life.”
For information search the Zen Tov Project on Google+ where a blog and inspiring photos and videos can be found.
“We are grateful to be able to continue to provide artsrelated services and experiences that can help transform lives both locally and around the world,” she said.