There are some people you meet through work that you know you're going to be connected to the rest of your life.
Such is the case with Laurie Zagon and me.
All About Color
I first met Laurie in New York in 1987 when I was an associate editor writing the color column for Contract magazine. An abstract artist, she was also a professor at the City University of New York specializing in color and light theory.
Color was her thing. Laurie's abstract paintings used the full-spectrum of color, blending hues in soft shapes and swirls that drew the eye in.
Her work was hanging in many corporate offices in New York, and Laurie was convinced that it provided therapeutic value for office workers to be exposed to color through art.
Made sense to me, so I wrote a story about it for my column.
Painting Workshops for Professionals
Laurie had also been conducting painting workshops to help Wall Street executives cope with stress. I convinced the program planners at the Symposium on Healthcare Design to invite her to do a similar type of workshop for Symposium attendees.
Some of you may recall attending her workshops, where she'd take us through our own explorations of color and feelings through painting exercises. It didn't have much to do with healthcare design, but she did talk about the healing power of color and encouraged designers to utilize the whole spectrum of the color palette when designing healthcare environments.
Why? Because light is made up of colors, and light is essential to circadian rhythms.
Made sense to me, so I collaborated on a book with Laurie called The Power of Color, which was published by John Wiley and Sons.
Laurie also encouraged designers to consider abstract art for healthcare environments. Because despite research to the contrary, she believes that the right kind of abstract art can provide therapeutic benefits.
It just depends on the composition, colors, etc.
What is Laurie Zagon Doing Now?
I've stayed in touch with Laurie over the years. She moved to California in 1989 to pursue her dream of helping children and adults use paint to process stress, illness, or grief.
I caught up with Laurie recently in Dana Point, Calif., where she and her husband Joe live.
She still paints, of course, but her full-time job is running Art and Creativity for Healing, the nonprofit organization she founded in 2001. In the past 17 years, the organization has worked with local and national nonprofit organizations, hospitals, and the military to conduct thousands of workshops in Southern California.
Laurie found a way to use her extraordinary gift of painting to help others. She says the work is not about her and takes particular pride that she has trained hundreds of others across the country (and even internationally) to conduct painting workshops and offer them in their communities.
It's Not Art Therapy
What Laurie does is not art therapy.
She doesn't evaluate the paintings that people create. Rather she and those she's trained to facilitate a process of coping with grief, anxiety, or stress through art expression. People are encouraged to share their feelings about their paintings with others in the workshop.
Although Art and Creativity for Healing is thriving, Laurie knows that it's not a good idea for founders to stay on too long. New leadership is needed to bring in fresh ideas.
So she's okay with her role in the organization changing at some point. Until then, Laurie Zagon will just keep doing what she's doing.
Download this free report from Art and Creativity for Healing, "Art and the Brain" to find out how exposure to visual art and participation in creative activities creates positive brain changes.
And, check out this short interview I did with Laurie this week:
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