What is it like to self-isolate for a long time? We all relate to that restless, anxious feeling. With Coronavirus cases on the rise in the United States, this can be an especially scary time for those with underlying health conditions.
For Hannah Beeves, an artist in Turtle Lake, Minn., there’s something special about being told that someone cares for you and loves you during such an uncertain time of life. That’s why she’s been busy creating positivity packages for people in isolation.
The envelopes contain a handwritten note for encouragement and a small piece of artwork – a drawing, painting, or a collage – just to brighten someone’s day.
Beeves lived in Osceola during high school until 2013, and she’s been doing art as long as she can remember.
Before living in Osceola, her family lived in Istanbul, Turkey, as missionaries. She did a lot of drawing with her Turkish friends and was always looking for ways to improve her artistic habits.
Being in a different country also broadened her understanding of the world.
“It gave me a more global perspective,” Beeves said. “It also put me in the shoes of being a minority and a foreigner.”
Living in an all-Muslim area, she was often targeted for being an American and a Christian, which helped her empathize a lot more with minority groups.
“I also made a lot of friends, and there were people who really stood up for me,” she said. “Which is why I want to help advocate and be a voice for others.”
Taking that perspective back to America, she put her love for others into practice, working in group homes, crisis shelters, rehab programs, and other areas in the helping field.
During high school, Beeves’ passion for art took off as she experimented with different mediums and used her creative ingenuity to craft masterpieces that reflected her inner thoughts and feelings.
“If I’m having a hard time, art is how I cope with stress and anxiety,” Beeves said. “And these are stress and anxiety-provoking times, so I’ve been doing lots and lots of art.”
Recently, she has been selling her art online, especially her handmade jewelry.
“My art is really based on what I’m feeling at the time,” she said. “I use epoxy resin, and I use dried botanicals within the resin.” She has also recently been enjoying watercolor and mixed media drawing.
Beeves graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in studio art. She delved into the psychology behind art and studied why it’s so powerful.
“When you look at the psychological aspect of art, it can be really healing because it allows different parts of your brain to work together that normally wouldn’t,” Beeves said. “While those connections are being made inside of your brain, it’s easier for people to process trauma and talk about things that they normally wouldn’t be able to talk about.”
Her goal is to be an art therapist and help people process mental health with the creative process. Although she isn’t an art therapist yet, she’s incorporated art groups into almost every one of her jobs.
Because Beeves is a Christian, her faith motivates her to love others in every part of her life. And, although she doesn’t often incorporate biblical themes in her artwork, the passion for beauty and communicating love and solidarity with others is a primary factor.
“A lot of times I’ll, like, pray while I’m doing art,” Beeves said. “The project I started recently that’s really faith-driven [is] the positivity package project. And when I write out messages for people, I’m not always writing Scripture verses or things like that, but it’s more of the action of letting people know that they’re cared about.”
While the positivity packages aren’t necessarily Christian-focused, she expects them to be openings for meaningful conversations.
Starting when the quarantine measures took effect in mid-March, Beeves has created over 160 of the packages so far and hopes to send out a lot more.
“I’ve sent them to kids, I’ve sent them to elderly in the nursing home,” Beeves said. “I think one was in New York, which is really cool.”
People with a loved one who needs encouragement can send Beeves that person’s address and the package will be delivered with an optional donation for postage.
Donations for the project have come from all over. Strangers have been giving money to help spread some positivity to people who are lonely and stressed. All of the donations go directly to postage costs, and Beeves doesn’t receive any profit.
“I feel like this is how I can help right now,” she said. “Like, I’m just using what I know how to do.”
For anyone who wants to send a positivity package to someone they know, or to support the project through donations, Beeves can be reached through email at email@example.com.
Beeves wants others to know that whoever they are and whatever their circumstances look like, they are unique and loved. Struggling with anxieties about the pandemic and transitioning into a new “normal” herself, her goal is to help everyone know they’re not alone, and we’re all in this together.