Ricky Bella, art therapist and founder of AT Kits, is on a mission to awaken creativity…one circle at a time. Ricky’s passion for the creative process and life experience took her on a journey that led to the development of a unique line of meaningful art experiences that adults, teens, kids and specialty populations benefit from. Here’s the inspiring story of Ricky’s path to launch her product line, appropriately named CREATE YOUR SELF – AT KITS.
My CREATE YOUR SELF Story
Looking back on my childhood it’s clear to me that I relied heavily on the creative process to express myself—in fact, I depended on it. Being a misunderstood tomboy with “mischievous tendencies,” the adults in my life were just happy I found something to do that kept me out of trouble (well, except for that time I painted a mural on my neighbor’s garage. Oops). No one encouraged me to express myself through art or bought me fancy supplies, by ‘fancy’ I mean the 64-count crayon box WITH the sharpener. It wasn’t until high school, when our teacher hung my self-portrait in the hallway for all to ID, that I received any recognition or praise. Making art was simply my default activity— a safe outlet that I stumbled upon naturally, trusted completely and did entirely for me. As a result, I spent a lot of alone time being creative while growing up….and truth be told, I still do.
As an art therapist, I’ve had the privilege to work with many different populations, age groups and settings over the years: teens in a hospital, children and families at my local community center and even women in a mammography clinic waiting room. What I saw, time and time again is that when given appropriate supplies and direction people want to be creative—it’s that simple. Admittedly, even I had my doubts walking into some of these situations – I wondered, Does a woman in a paper robe with no bra about to get her breast flattened to see where she falls in a 1 out of 8 statistics really want to create a small sculpture? I felt uncomfortable even asking! But I trusted the process and offered up some carefully selected art supplies with confidence. To my surprise, no one declined. In fact, women would actually return to that small waiting room AFTER their mammogram to sculpt some more.
It was amazing to witness how the energy shifted for those women—the opportunity to silently express one’s SELF and their inner feelings in the thick of an otherwise heavily guarded moment was profound. This experience, along with others, deepened my belief in the process and drove me to make meaningful art experiences more readily available.
I introduced The CREATE YOUR SELF line of art experiences with my ‘SELFIE’ Kits for adults, teens, and kids. The idea is to explore a more ‘authentic’ take on the traditional selfie by creating small free-form circles, also known as Mandalas, over the course of a week. The process is simple, calming and has been described by many as ‘meditative’. The thoughtful design and beautifully packaged high-quality supplies intentionally make it clear to the user that they will embark on an experience, rather than a project. Soon after, the line expanded to include other versions of the concept including a family-friendly Vacation kit, the ’On the Mend’ kit for patients and Mama’s Mandalas, an experience designed specifically for pregnant woman.
I’m excited to share that AT kits will introduce two totally new concepts to the market later this year. One will address children’s confidence and help change limiting mindsets; the other will inspire uncensored free expression with endless applications through the use of a ‘magic canvas’. The potential fuels my passion and the future excites me because I sincerely believe that meaningful art experiences can play an ongoing valuable role on the journey to CREATE and re-create YOUR SELF.
One of my favorite basic art therapy directives was always the mobile. The directive is simple: Build a structure and hang elements on it. The trick is to find the point of balance between the different objects. You quickly realize that each time an element is added, a new point of balance needs to be determined. The seemingly simple harmony achieved in a peacefully swaying work of kinetic art is ALWAYS preceded by erratic movement, instability, and intentional adjustments. You see where I’m going with this?? Such is life. Whenever I find myself making adjustments to restore balance in my own life – be it professionally, within my marriage, or among my 3 boys – this visual serves as a comforting metaphor. For me, being present in that moment of vulnerability helps – I rely on creative thinking, flexibility, and an open mind to withstand the stress in my pursuit of harmony. Ultimately, that’s what AT Kits is about for me: an empowering opportunity to restore balance and attain stability through a creative process….one circle at a time.
To buy your own AT Kit visit Ricky at www.CreateYourSelfKit.com