Healing Circles Digital Arts Project Launched This Fall

by | Oct 2022

An example of a healing circle painted in watercolors.

Photo: Leanne French Amara

Edina student art projects to be displayed in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week.

This fall, the City of Edina, in conjunction with the Edina School District and Edina’s Arts and Culture Commission, will launch the Healing Circles Digital Arts Project in Edina’s public schools. Through this project, students will learn about traditional radial art and create their own radial designs.

The goal of this project is multifaceted, not only providing educational opportunities, but also raising awareness of the importance of prioritizing mental health through processing emotions. Edina art students will learn the cultural significance of radial artwork while experiencing art therapy as they create their own pieces—discovering firsthand the healing properties of making art.

Jody De St. Hubert, director of teaching and learning for Edina Public Schools, notes that, as students work on these art projects, they will learn in a tangible way that art can help them identify and process what they’re feeling and ground themselves in the present moment.

“The Healing Circles campaign is about using art across a wide range of cultures to support one another in a space of rebuilding and healing,” says De St. Hubert. “As we move forward and beyond an extremely challenging two years for everyone in our community, a circle’s primary purpose is to unite. We are all united in experiencing challenges, and we are all united in wanting to move forward from the challenges. At the same time, the specific circle art projects will allow students to express their unique journey in the past, the present and/or the future.”

The Healing Circles project draws its inspiration from longtime Edina art teacher Leanne French Amara, who has included radial designs in her arts curriculum at Normandale Elementary School for the last 13 years. To make this more of a widespread project for the entire school district, French Amara created a healing circles learning tutorial, which was sent to art teachers throughout the district.

Students in Edina Public School’s K–12 art classrooms will create their own healing circles this fall. “There’s no right or wrong way [to make a healing circle]. It’s individual … they can be as simple or intricate as you want,” says French Amara.

All of this individual expression will be on display this October. A sampling of healing circles will be selected by the Edina Arts and Culture Commission and used by digital-mapping artist Boo McCaleb in an immersive display.

McCaleb says digital mapping is a “way of projecting images onto a surface. Surfaces can be as large as a building or as small as a chair.” (It’s the same approach that was used at last year’s immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Lighthouse Minneapolis.)

On October 7, from 6:45–9:45 p.m., select students’ healing circles will be projected onto both the Edina Community Education Building facing the South View Middle School parking lot and Edina High School’s Kuhlman Football Field during Edina’s game against Lakeville North. Starting on October 15, the Healing Circles project will be featured on Agenda: Edina, which plays on EdinaTV for Comcast and Xfinity cable subscribers in Edina. It can also be streamed from the City of Edina’s YoutTube channel.

The display is timed to run during the National Alliance on Mental Illness Mental Illness Awareness Week October 2–8.

If you’re struggling with mental health and need support, talk to your doctor or visit psychologytoday.com/us/therapists to find a mental health professional in your area. If you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, call 988 (the new three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) to receive crisis support.


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