The Chesco Painter’s art therapy work helps him to cope and heal

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW News Radio) — Some people dealing with depression, anxiety and addiction turn to art as therapy, their way of coping and healing. A Chester County man who used art in this way is now prominently displaying his work at a Center City hotel.

“It absolutely validated me,” said JP Weber of Berwyn. Weber is a self-taught artist who used painting to heal and rediscover himself after battling depression and substance abuse.

“I woke up to manipulation to recover from manipulation,” he said.

“I need validation and I had to find it. My reality has been challenged. I have daughters and I don’t know if that was the reason that kept me going. I needed a place to express my story.”

To do this, he picked up a brush.

A work by Chester County artist JP Weber, who used painting as a form of therapy.

Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

“I was at a loss for words because I was speaking about a space I had never communicated in before,” he said.

Many of Weber’s works are abstract paintings. He was surprised to hear from others that his work was quite good.

“Then it would feed him,” he said. “That’s why I painted, because the world said no. And I’ve painted and I say, ‘That reflects back on me.’ I drew it and said it looks good and I put it away and do the next one. I needed confirmation that this was right, and it gave me it.”

Rachel Brandoff, Ph.D, a licensed art therapist at Thomas Jefferson University, agreed that making art can provide such validation.

“We see ourselves as someone who is in control, who has the ability to make decisions. We are allowed to own even our bad decisions [them] when we make art.”

She said some of her clients use art to navigate their lives.

“Then those skills are transferrable to other parts of their lives,” Brandoff said of people involved in the growing world of art therapy.

“Some of my clients use art to communicate something about themselves. So sometimes I have clients who look at her art and say, “Oh my god, I didn’t even realize I was thinking or feeling that way,” and somehow it comes through in the art. In many cases, it is about communicating with yourself. Even more than for other people, art becomes a kind of by-product of the communication process.”

The artwork of JP Weber, a Chester County artist who discovered painting as a form of therapy.  His work is exhibited at the Hyatt Centric Hotel in Center City.

The artwork of JP Weber, a Chester County artist who discovered painting as a form of therapy. His work is exhibited at the Hyatt Centric Hotel in Center City.

Photo credit John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Some of Weber’s art will be spotlighted this month at the Hyatt Centric Hotel in Center City through the Makers Series, a series of monthly art exhibitions featuring local artists.

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