Updated: Apr 20
“If it wasn’t for my art keeping me grounded, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
— Jonathan McAdam
I had the privilege of interviewing Jonathan McAdam, the art teacher here at Jericho Road, to get a little more insight into why art is an important medium in addiction recovery.
What has been the biggest benefit of using art in your recovery? How has it affected your perspective?
I think the biggest benefits of using art is that ultimately it gives me the opportunity to just be present and to find balance. With many years of using in addiction - our thoughts tend to be focused on the negative aspects of our past, and then we become fearful when thoughts go into the future. When we're creating it allows us to not think about the past nor about the future and just be present. Art has changed my life because I did not have any belief in myself and who I was, or what I was capable of doing. I was ultimately lost without any direction. Being able to create changed my perspective. Now I look at myself and I believe wholeheartedly that I am who I am - I am the artist of my life and all the decisions I make are a stroke from a paint brush onto the canvas which is my life. I've also been able to come to understand that anything is possible – the arts give me that confidence and that focus to accomplish my goals.
How is art a recovery tool?
It is a recovery tool because I'm able to decompress and focus on what I want to generate. I am able to look at myself and be proud of how far I have come - utilize art just to be able to focus on the present time and be one with myself. When creating, time does not exist for me. I'm just able to create in that moment, but also I get to reflect on the things I want to create in my future, creating a vision for myself and just trying to be present with God.
What is the inspiration for your art?
Well I’ve really personalized my art style, calling it ‘medicreational’. People often ask me
“what’s that?” For me, it’s combining meditation and creation together. I believe that we all are divinely and spiritually gifted, and when it comes to my art I'm just basically able to start creating and allow the God of my understanding flow through me. A lot of people kind of look at my art and think of native indigenous, others think of African or Mexican or a whole bunch of different styles. When it comes to the creational parts, it’s just more or less a
combination of a whole bunch of different things. It just comes out of my mind and I'm just the vessel for the divine to flow through me.
How did art become a part of your recovery?
It became a massive part of my recovery when I was in treatment. When I wasn’t in classes I would sit at desk and work on my art, and one day as I was working on my art I had a friend come up to me and put one of my designs onto a t-shirt. He told me “Brother, this is what you have to do.” From point, I wrote out my business plan – to put my art on t-shirts, hats, hoodies and other items. I got to create a business using my art, this was a reason for my current
transformation. Even now, through my art I'm able to help out other individuals in recovery with the art recovery program at Jericho Road. In the end I want to generate my own treatment center focused on using art therapy, music, meditation human kinetics, woodworking and more that has a spiritual foundation. I want individuals to recognize the personal power that they hold within and that we all are here to create a life of our own design.
Thank you Jonathan for sharing your experience, strength and hope with us. We got a few lines from residents while at it.
What do you like about art class?
"I like it because it's a break from sitting in a class and listening and trying to write stuff down." ~ Shane.
"Art class gives me in a moment of tranquility within myself, when I start to work on colour tables and such." ~ James L
"I like how it gets me out of my head and create." ~ Matthew D.
"I love that it’s a place where I'm able to have a time to really focus on what it is that I want out of life and having a place to pray about it and meditate is very helpful for me." ~ Hunter D.
"That I can get out of my head and draw with different colour combinations. I've used it a lot for my mental health, and to keep me from stirring. I've come to really enjoy it." ~ William W.
“Life is like photography you need the negatives to develop.”
~ Hunter D.