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For Good

Northside artist promotes creative healing with Art Word Bound

“I’m compulsively creative; I can’t help it.” That’s how ArtWord Bound Creatives founder and sole director Ursula Roma describes herself—and considering the impressive range of artwork featured on her blog, it’s clear she’s not joking.

Roma, who’s been involved in art-making and philanthropy in Cincinnati for 25 years—with YWCA, Planned Parenthood, Northside Community Council, Children’s Hospital and others—introduced her newest initiative in spring of 2011.

The mission: “To develop, nurture and promote artistic creation and exploration with visual art and words in the form of storytelling through painting, drawing, journaling, bookmaking and more.”

ArtWord Bound, a division of the Child Wellness Fund, satisfies what Roma sees as a real need in the community.

“A lot of art organizations in town work with middle-class kids—and that’s great,” she says. “But I wanted to work with kids who maybe aren’t as privileged, who might not [otherwise] ever use a paintbrush.”

In addition to creatively mentoring children, Roma provides art and word therapy to prisoners, senior citizens, battered women and other frequently overlooked groups.

She makes use of public spaces and meets with participants in retirement communities, schools, hospitals and in their homes. She even toys with the possibility of one day having her own traveling art therapy van.

She says her desire to help underprivileged people express themselves through art stems from a serious accident she was involved in as a child.

“I spent a month in the hospital when I was nine,” Roma says. “My saving grace was to be able to create art from supplies my mom brought to my bedside. It was my escape. I want to offer that same release to people who are struggling with chronic disease or kids that are stuck in bed because of an accident or illness. Plus, family and friends can benefit from their artwork and stories, too.”

Much like its philanthropic mission, the revenue-generating side of ArtWord Bound centers on providing access to those less fortunate. Roma relies on her decades of advocacy and art-making experience to provide professional design services, illustration, and publicity—at well-below-market rates—for select organizations that lack the means to promote their own causes.

Roma has witnessed the healing effects of creativity firsthand, and while she says it usually comes more naturally to children, people at every age are susceptible.

“I can say that through my experience with seniors, children and also prisoners, that everyone eventually becomes completely absorbed in the moment when they are creating, and in the end when they have finished a piece of art, they feel excited,” she says.

“They have pride from accomplishment, focus from creating and being in the moment [and an] escape from their current worries.”

Do Good:

• Read the blog and find out more about Roma's art therapy works.

Make a donation to support the non-profit's work.

Take a look at Roma's art work for sale..

By Hannah Purnell
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