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Puyallup woman uses art to tamp down anxiety

Lydia Selk's collages are more than just beautiful works of art. They're therapy.

TACOMA, Wash. — In the colorful collages of Lydia Selk you'll often see glamorous icons from a golden age besieged by swarming geometric forms. They look beautiful but they might leave you feeling just a bit uneasy.

"So many people see certain pieces that look like the way an anxiety attack feels when it's like rising up in your body," says Selk who knows that feeling well.

She has also found an artistic way to tamp down her anxiety. With an Exacto knife and glue, she cuts and pastes her way through troubling times.

"Art has always been a friend of mine in trying just to comfort me and slow down the chaos," she says.

In the studio Selk says her goal is to empty her mind and let her fingers show her the way.

"I use it as a meditation tool to bring down the anxiety," she says, "And to bring down the noise in my head"

It all begin s with materials purchased at garage sales.

"So I sit down with the books and the magazines and I flip through until I find an image that pops shapes into my head," she says.

"It's very meditative to sit down and start cutting out just a pattern and just the repetitive shapes. And after I get done cutting that out then I'll flip though my magazines and books some more and find the background."

Hours can slip by in the soothing process.The reward is a new work of art and an escape from a world that's increasingly making so many of us feel on edge.

Lately, it's been too much," Selk says. "My dishes are piled up. My laundry is piled up and I've got a layer of little cut bits of paper all over my studio floor."

She says her art reflects how she's been feeling: the anxiety, the worry and the gloom. Her works speak to others who reach out to say they're facing the same trials.

"It's nice to know we have a quiet little community, a little connection together because we're not alone," she says.

That's why Lydia Selk is revealing techniques it's taken her ten years to master.

"It's not as hard as people think it is," she confesses.

So she can inspire others to meet her comforting friend.

"I think maybe if it's easy and approachable then other people will want to give it a try," she says.

Lydia Selk hopes to have her works appear in a gallery someday. You can see more of her collages on her Instagram Page. She says she is open to any questions or advice about art or anything else.  She really wants to be helpful. She doesn't want people to be shy about art.

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