Salman Toor uses his art works as an anti-anxiety medicine. Much needed, in times like these. The Brooklyn-based artist creates paintings of (groups of) people in everyday surroundings. However, those surroundings aren’t that common when looking at today’s lockdowns. How can you use art as a practice to calm down and why is it so effective? Let’s figure it out.
Cover photo: © Unsplash
Art against anxiety
According to recent research carried out by University of Applied Sciences Leiden, The Netherlands, art therapy is useful to reducing anxiety, improving quality of life and aspects of emotional regulation. Treatment effects remained up to three months after therapy, improving acceptance of emotions and improved goal-oriented action as well. The latter two are associated with the decrease of anxiety. Quite a lot of positive effects, if you ask us.
In times like these, it isn’t strange that people fall back on classic ways to avoid stress and anxiety. Painting, pottery and knitting are just a few. Decades ago, psychologist Carl Jung already knew what we experience know: coloring mandalas relieves the mind and elevates the mood. Coloring mandalas had a positive effect on processing thoughts and emotions, while evoking calmness at his patients.
Brooklyn-based artist Salman Toor is the living example of how making art can make you cope with anxiety. From his small studio, he told W Magazine that he uses paintings of his parents’ house to relaxed and unwind: “I remembered the old house that I grew up in, and I wanted to paint it for about a year. I was revisiting this memory that I used every now and then, if I was very anxious, to calm down. Weirdly, for some reason, I use that image, among other images, to relax myself.”
Toor knows anxiety like no other. By growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, he experienced the atmosphere of a developing country. In his paintings, tough, he likes to juxtapose developing surroundings with developed ones. Toor portrays the West’s fear of immigrants, a post-9/11 America and Ney York’s stressed environment.
Toor isn’t the only one who has been touched by his work – some even compare him to Dutch master Van Gogh. From March 20th this year, a selection of his paintings has been exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art. Unfortunately, the museum is closed until further notice. To enjoy his work and experience its calming effect, check out his Instagram.
Learning from quarantaine
If there’s anything we can learn from past studies, Salman Toor and this quarantaine, is that we have to take a step back to calm down. Our lives have raced pass us without comprehending it. Let’s cherish these moments while being safe and grab your pencil. We bet you’ll feel better after messing around with paint. Enjoy the lockdown and be safe.