Danica Thurber has experience with what hurt looks like.
"What I do in my day job is I'm a pastor. I see broken and hurting people every day," the bubbly young woman says.
Danica doesn't just see it. She creates with it. The Pullman artist is healing pain with paint. "Human beings are like works of art, but we have a term in the art world, it's a work in progress," she says.
A lot of her paintings are self portraits, like the one she painted as part of her senior thesis at WSU. Her project had her exploring how grief can be expressed through art, but she also found herself exploring a grief of her own. "It was just a really hard memory and I knew that I needed to paint it out because it was stuck in my head. That to me is the power of art - it helps you process something that's unimaginable in the corners of a canvas."
The painting is a reflection on the hardest night of her life. "My life changed really drastically when I was 12. My dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack," she explains.
Over the years, her art has documented her healing. From grey, to full of color, she's been peeling away layers of pain she's dealt with for ten years. As she healed herself, she realized she had the tools to help others. Danica explains that she dealt with her loss differently from her siblings. "I was so quiet. Art was really my voice during that time. I just kind of painted out my grief without knowing what I was doing."
Danica and her husband recently started Project Grief, an online art course that allows people to create and heal. "Helping others with their loss gives meaning to mine and the darkness that I went through."
Grief, she says, is a blank canvas. You may have had life planned, but loss can wipe everything away. You may not feel you can fill the void - but the important part is to start. "If I'm the canvas here and my messy, my blank canvas, it's being made into something beautiful. I believe it will be beautiful in the end," she says.
You can learn more about Project Grief and sign up for classes here: https://projectgrief.org/p/project-grief-moving-forward-through-art-org
Danica is teaching Healing Through Art classes every Saturday in July. You can sign up or just show up to the Dahmen Barn at 10 A.M. to use art to heal from grief. More on those classes: https://www.artisanbarn.org/events-classes.php