Art Hives

Professor of art therapy counseling and "primary instigator" for the starting of Art Hives on campus, Shelly Goebl-Parker helps plan out the sessions while still being an art and design teacher. To her left, second year graduate student and art therapy major Katie Lacombe of Kansas City, Missouri, knits during the session Friday.

Last summer, the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability at SIUE began housing Art Hives — a small, community-based project mirrored from a global campaign. Whether it be for therapeutic reasons or just to give someone a place to create, Art Hives brings a sense of community to the area.

Based out of Canada, Art Hives seeks to connect communities through art. According to their website, Art Hives was created by Janis Timm-Bottos, an associate professor of art therapy at Concordia University, who since its creation, has led six established Art Hives communities throughout North America.

Art Hives was brought to SIUE last year by Associate Professor of Art and Design Shelly Goebl-Parker. 

“I was at a conference a couple of years ago, and [Timm-Bottos] was sharing about how they’re sharing Art Hives. I’m used to the idea of them being out in communities, but she was talking about them being on campus, and I was like, ‘Why haven’t I even thought of that?’ So, it just made so much sense with our resources,” Goebl-Parker said.

But, Goebl-Parker said this can’t be done without students. With the students, everyone comes together and shares supplies and their own experiences to make a better experience for all.

“The students are the ones [who] are ready to be helpful with this, and, of course, we have our materials and supplies, so we share with everybody,” Goebl-Parker said.

As a professor, Goebl-Parker uses Art Hives as scholarly work for herself. She also has the support of art programs, which help research overall.

“It’s my scholarly work in a way. But, it’s a very shared process. It’s very collaborative, and we have our support of both [the art school and art therapy programs]. It’s really been something that [my research assistants and I] really coordinate, and then, of course, we have the wonderful students who also show up,” Goebl-Parker said.

Goebl-Parker made it clear Art Hives isn’t therapy, but it’s something that still looks to support wellness and mental health. 

“Therapy is something that’s very private, but art therapists can bring and create these spaces that are more public that can still be therapeutic and build community … But, it’s different from therapy because it isn’t the same kind of contract, but it’s still about supporting wellness,” Goebl-Parker said.

Since the beginning of this semester, Art Hives has been hosted in the Fuller Dome’s Center for Spirituality and Sustainability on the first Friday of every month. The overall theme of Art Hives is sustainability, which has been incorporated into Art Hives at SIUE.

Art Hives reuses a lot of materials to usher in sustainability. At one event, art was created using small pieces from beehives.

First-year art therapy graduate student Anna Moore, of St. Louis, said Art Hives first began in Canada. She explained it’s all community-based work.

“Art Hives was developed in Canada, and it’s considered a therapeutic form of art making, but it isn’t art therapy. So, we aren’t doing any actual therapy here — it’s all community-based work,” Moore said.

Moore said the main difference between this setting being an actual art therapy session is catharsis. While people can come in and explore mediums to create art with, they aren’t voluntarily seeking therapy; rather, they’re working through things and creating art with others. 

“Art Hives is a community-building, meaningful art-making experience to help grow communities … Their core values are each one, teach one, [and] radical hospitality. It’s a way to get people involved and help them get through whatever they need to in a safe environment,” Moore said.

Art Hives has been going on for a few months and is looking to continue in the next year.

“We’ve done it a couple months now. We’ve had a few trial runs, and it’s our first time doing a monthly event — it’s our first run at that … We’re hoping to [keep going] throughout this year … Next year, we’ll try and continue, but we won’t set those dates until later,” Moore said.

First-year art therapy graduate student Kayla Grobe, of Dixon, Illinois, said a collaboration has occurred already this year.

“We tried to collaborate [with other organizations] at the beginning of the year … where we could do Art Hives with kids. It was at a dance recital that dealt with gun violence,” Grobe said.

First-year art therapy graduate student, Heather Conley, enjoys Art Hives because it gives her a chance to learn about art therapy quickly.

“It’s so awesome. You really get to know each other and know the program. You learn it all so fast, and, because we’re doing Head Start experience, you get to apply it so fast,” Conley said.

Going from theory to the practice of Art Hives is something that has interested Conley, and she said it’s helped her understand more about her studies by participating.

“It’s kind of interesting. You learn so much more about the brain and how artwork impacts the brain, and you learn that it’s so much more than just making art. You put it together and you realize, ‘Oh, I get this now, now I know what I’m doing,’ and I think that’s really cool,” Conley said.

Art therapy looks at art as more than art — there’s a science behind it that looks into how art can help the brain, according to Conley.

“That’s what I like about art therapy: it’s both an art and a science. It combines [it all],” Conley said.

To learn more on Art Hives, check out their website at, or visit the next Art Hive at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3rd in the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability.

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