The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Art therapy classes aim to relieve stress, relax the body and mind

CSUN art faculty Fabia Panjarian instructs art major Richere Barbeau, 21, in the Contemplation Garden of the Oasis Wellness Center, Wednesday, Jan. 27. Panjarian is teaching a series of classes designed to relieve stress and test anxiety for CSUN students. Photo credit: Max Zeronian

Each Wednesday this semester, CSUN students are encouraged to participate in art therapy classes at the Oasis Wellness Center. The sessions, held in the Contemplation Garden and led by part-time lecturer Fabia Panjarian, are designed to help relieve students of stress through projects designed to exercise both sides of the brain.

“According to Dr. Betty Edwards’ extensive research, in most of us, the right hemisphere, which is more imaginative and intuitive, is taken over by the more linear and rational left hemisphere,” Panjarian said.

Typically, the right side of the brain is responsible for tasks pertaining to the production or performance of art. This side also deals with creativity. The left side of the brain is responsible for decisions relating to logic, such as science and mathematics.

“The art workshops I lead at the Oasis encourage creativity and self-expression in a stress-free setting,” Panjarian said.

Panjarian designed the therapy courses at the wellness center to work both sides of the brain. By giving students an art project where geometric shapes are used, the left side is exercised and students begin to lose track of time. Students will be able to keep their projects after each session.

“I benefit from the art therapy sessions because it allows me to be calm and relaxed during stressful times at school and in my personal life,” art major Richere Barbeau, 21, said.

According to Panjarian, the projects are geared toward the beginning artist, but those more experienced will find the work beneficial as well. Materials used are simple, and those in the class have the freedom to move about the garden.

The process of making art is naturally soothing, but the projects are designed specifically to relieve stress for those doing them, including the instructor, Panjarian said.

The Oasis Wellness Center describes the setting as being designed with relaxation in mind. Sessions take place in the Contemplation Garden, behind the labyrinth, where students are immersed in a garden — free of electronic distractions. Along with the botanical wellness built into the center, students will find West African wisdom symbols and zentangle designs to calm the body and mind.

The classes will run until May 4. Students can register by going to the Oasis website within 24 hours of the start of the class, which runs from 1–2:30 p.m.

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