"La Cura Della Bellezza": Art as a Form of Therapy
What happens when students bring art and beauty to a neighborhood that is a symbol of urban blight?
In September 2019 the JCU Office of Community Service and the Dipartimento di Salute Mentale- Centro Diurno Mazzacurati (Department of Mental Health- Day Center Mazzacurati) started to collaborate on La Cura della Bellezza, a street art project. The Center provides mental health services and organizes activities aimed at the social inclusion and integration of people who struggle with socialization.
On February 4, 2020, key participants of the project, including JCU students represented by Julia Del Papa, were invited to a panel discussion on La Cura della Bellezza at the Renato Nicolini municipal library in the Corviale neighborhood.
During the street art project, JCU students collaborated with the guests of the Center making sketches and ultimately painting a mural. They used art as a way to express themselves and also saw the opportunity to use the mural as a tool to bring the community closer together in the Corviale neighborhood. Julia Del Papa, Director of Community Service, Religious Life and Multiculturalism, explained how the students and the guests were initially very shy but, after some time spent drawing together, they became more confident and started building friendships. “Art can be seen as a form of therapy, creating positive change and growth within the individual that is also later reflected in interactions with others,” said Del Papa.
The name of the project, La Cura della Bellezza (“Healing through Beauty”) is based on the idea of bringing beauty to Corviale, a residential complex in the outskirts of Rome. Due to its large size and the difficult living conditions of its residents, Corviale has become, in the collective image, a symbol of the capital’s urban decay. Part of the aim of this project is to go beyond this negative image and bring art and beauty to the whole area
The street art project is only one of a series of projects that stemmed from the partnership between the Centro Diurno Mazzacurati and JCU. The Community Service Program offers many different service opportunities and gives students the possibility to earn a Certificate of Participation for volunteering with JCU-affiliated associations.
Julia Del Papa explained how volunteering projects are not only positive for the beneficiaries of the different services, but also to JCU students who can develop soft-skills and get a wider perspective on social issues. Volunteering allows students to work with the local communities, build long-lasting relationships and accumulate life-changing experiences that can be incorporated in their resumes. The Community Service Program has about 500 volunteers a year on average and the numbers are hopefully going to increase in the following year.