The Power to Create and to Be: The Red Rock Canyon School of Art Therapy

Swami Vivekananda said, “we have the power to make ourselves,” and the overt simplicity of what he said has always remained puzzling. It sounds great on paper, but who are we? What do we want to be?

Everyone with an ounce of breath and enough time in their life to make mistakes has asked these same questions. Everyone has a place in this world. Some people are too scared to chase their place, and others are confoundingly lost in a hazy maze of apparently lost opportunities. Troubled teens have the world in their grasp. They have a wide future full of anything and everything. Unfortunately, they become bogged down in understanding, maturing, and chasing things that do not seem as wonderful as what they were promised.

Art becomes an expression of every single one of these ideas. Why does art exist? It serves no obvious purpose. It does not feed anyone. It does not cure diseases or provide a shelter. Or does it? Art is at once nothing and everything. Every impact art has is indirect. Some of the best art in the world has brought infinite happiness on a global scale. The Sistine Chapel, in all its astounding glory, is displayed to millions of visitors every year. Its beauty enchants visitors.

Art is astoundingly powerful, and it is one of the main tools used at the Red Rock Canyon School. The faculty uses art to bring troubled teens through self-actualization. Teens have a lot going on, and that is to be respected. They are not acting out because they are bad. They are acting out because they are lacking a way to express themselves, and they are overwhelmed by the big ideas of the world—that sense of purpose.

Vivekananda has promised that we have the power to make ourselves. But, he also said that “we are responsible for what we are.” We cannot blame. We cannot be guilty. Perhaps it is this realization that turns someone from a teenager to an adult. Teens are still blaming, and art can potentially drive them to take a proactive grasp of life and what it can offer.

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