Collective Creativity: The Benefits of Group Art-Making

About 20 people gathered around a community-style table for my Cut Loose Collage Workshop at Fame Lounge/Eatery in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Some people knew each other; many didn’t know anyone in the room. By the end of the two-hour workshop, every single person had connected on some level. 

And it wasn’t just small talk.

From show-and-tell to collaborating with their “neighbors” seated next to them, participants shared intimate aspects of their lives, offered advice, joked around (collage can be pretty funny), and actively listened to one another. Everyone left happy—and not just because they made incredible collage art.  

A good portion of the comments after the workshop focused on the positive social interactions and how making art in a group fostered deeper conversations they wouldn’t normally have with people they just met.

This experience highlighted the broader benefits of group art-making, which extend beyond the immediate joy of creating to cultivate a sense of community and connection.

Creating Community

Loneliness and social isolation have been significant societal issues long before the pandemic. COVID-19 exacerbated these disconnections, and many people have yet to fully reconnect. According to a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, loneliness and social isolation increase the chances of premature death and the risk of disease and adverse mental conditions such as anxiety and depression.

However, there is a growing body of research exploring how the arts contribute to wellbeing at the community level. Recent studies suggest that arts and cultural practices enhance social cohesion, contribute to healthy communities, and improve individual wellbeing. This promising research is detailed in the article, Engaging the Arts for Wellbeing in the United States of America: A Scoping Review.

During the workshop, I witnessed several ways collective art-making benefited participants:

  • Strengthening Friendship-Building Skills: Participants actively engaged with others through design suggestions, sharing materials (and food!), and exchanged contact information and social media handles after the workshop.
  • Expressing Vulnerability: Everyone felt safe and supported to share personal hang-ups around creative barriers or express unhelpful inner narratives.
  • Deepening Existing Bonds: Friends and family who attended together strengthened their camaraderie through a shared creative activity. The unique setting allowed them to discover new aspects of each other, collaborate on projects, and create a special memory.

For me, the workshop showed how group art-making can bring people closer and help build stronger, more connected communities.

Crafting Connections

In my experience, group art-making is a powerful tool for building a sense of community in any setting—from corporate team retreats to craft workshops at assisted living centers. If you’re looking to incorporate art for wellness, here are some benefits of group art-making for students, colleagues, and patients.

Higher Education Institutions

  • Deeper Connections: Engaging in art activities with peers offers a supportive environment where students can express their emotions and share experiences and memories with one another.
  • Inclusive Environment: Encourages interaction among diverse student groups, fostering inclusivity and cultural exchange.

Corporate Settings

  • Team Building: Group art-making boosts collaboration and sparks creative problem-solving, all in a relaxed setting.
  • Employee Wellbeing: Provides a fun and engaging way to reduce workplace stress and improve overall morale.

Human Services Sector

  • Community Building: Helps build a supportive environment for individuals who are new to a program or facility. 
  • Skill Development: Participants can develop new skills and self-confidence through collaborative art projects.

Group art-making is more than just fun; it builds connections, creates community, and enhances wellbeing. In schools, human services, workplaces, or among friends, creating together breaks down barriers, promotes inclusivity, and inspires personal growth. By coming together to make art, we form meaningful relationships and strengthen our communities. 

If you’re interested in hosting a Cut Loose Collage Workshop, contact me to get started!