Hilda Meza uses art to heal

Hilda Meza joined Harlem United in 2006, when our El Faro Health Center opened, and has been our east side art therapist ever since. Hilda is an avid a painter herself—she makes time to paint everyday—and knows the important role art plays in helping us connect to our emotional experiences.

“For the clients, art becomes the language. The best part is seeing the range of talent, and seeing that creating is a beautiful process.”

Indeed, art therapists are trained to follow the patterns in their clients’ creations. For example, water often signifies depression or alcoholism. Hilda runs a self-directed, open studio where clients chose what they want to create and decide on their own timelines. She gives technical artistic assistance when needed and offers individual sessions for specific mental health issues. She guides the creative process and  reviews the artwork aesthetically and emotionally with the clients, but only if they want to. “Some people just prefer to use art as a release. But if they allow, we make the emotional connections, too. The most important thing is to keep in mind is that the client has to discover the connections for him or herself.”

Hilda, who came to New York City from Lima, Peru at age 6, holds an MA in Art Therapy from NYU. In addition to art therapy, Hilda runs the weekly El Faro drum circle and manages the recreational calendar.

Fun fact about Hilda?

She hiked the Inca Trail in April 2012.