Proyecto Cuídate Participants Develop Confidence, Self-Expression through Art Therapy

April 22, 2015 | Chicago, IL

Art Therapy Class

Local artist Ramón Marino led art therapy sessions for Proyecto Cuídate in Little Village this spring.

Each Wednesday morning over the past two months a group of women in the Proyecto Cuídate program at Erie Neighborhood House have gathered in Little Village for a series of workshops conducted by local artist Ramón Marino. Part of an innovative art therapy initiative, the sessions are designed to empower the women and give them space for self-expression.

Under Marino’s guidance, participants have created artwork through projects such as hand-folding tissue paper floral bouquets, weaving wall hangings and carving rose portraits into half watermelons using X-Acto knives.

The weekly workshops have proved to be stretching for some of the adult participants, and that is precisely what Marino hopes for when designing his program.

“Children are very open to new experiences,” he explains in Spanish. “Many of these parents have never had contact with any of these materials...they are all new tools for them. So all of a sudden what they say is, ‘I can’t,’” continues Marino, who earned a fine arts degree in Mexico City and is well known throughout Chicago as both a visual artist and a folk musician.

“And the ‘I can’t’ is always what I work with."

Marino came to Chicago to teach at Northeastern Illinois University on the city’s Northwest Side. He has been active in the field of art therapy for more than a decade, and his experience has enabled him to affect positive change in the lives of his students as they find their own voices and place trust in those around them.

“Art therapy gives them peace and tranquility and way to express themselves,” says Marino. “What’s important is that they bring [these lessons] home and practice them with their families.”

According to Erie House Resource & Support Services Coordinator Norma Lozano, contracting Marino for the past two months has been a worthwhile investment for the Proyecto Cuídate program.

“We think this is important because participants are able to see what they are capable of and gain self-esteem,” explains Lozano. “It’s difficult for some of them to open up and show their emotions—[art therapy provides] an easier way for them to do this.” 

Lozano points out that Marino helped create an atmosphere that was conducive to growth. “They enjoy the class because he connects with them so well,” she says. “He’s funny, positive and energetic, and he validates each of the participants.”

In addition to art therapy, participants in the women’s group have benefitted from workshops and activities addressing psychology, self-expression, and self-care methods of relaxation and stress reduction. For more information, please visit


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