Contrary to popular belief, the art form of miming is more than a lighthearted performance that brings smiles to entertained viewers. These underappreciated artists connect with audience members through their exaggerated facial expressions and animated movements. Over the past two decades, Garrett has taught miming to people from vulnerable communities. He views it as an opportunity to foster artistic abilities in a welcoming environment. Such communities include women’s shelters and working with children with Down syndrome. Without a simple means of expression, these people often feel detached from others.
People spend all day talking, but how much weight do their words truly carry? Often, words don’t match body language and facial expressions—people say they’re fine when their facial expression indicates the opposite. A slouched posture, a frown or furrowed eyebrows can all be clues into a person’s genuine emotions.
Garrett performed at one of Szego’s lectures and learned of people’s willingness to express painful topics through movement rather than discussing them in a medical environment. Miming offers a creative outlet and a means to communicate that differs from traditional verbal conversation.
Words can more easily mask feelings but it’s difficult to hide body language; most people don’t practice altering this type of communication. The idea of expression through body movement is miming’s central component. This unique art form decreases discrepancy in messages, allowing viewers to better understand the emotions a mime seeks to convey.
Scientific studies are becoming increasingly interested in the notion that specific movements stimulate different parts of the brain. Although many people have trouble believing that art forms are more than just entertainment, science is providing tangible evidence of the neurological impacts of alternative forms of communication including miming.
A recent article in The Atlantic describes influential people in the miming community and their mission to help others through the art form. Julithe Garrett has worked around the world with his now ex-wife Eva Szego, a licensed art therapist and psychotherapist in pursuit of providing a cathartic outlet.
Miming as a type of therapy certainly proves that alternative art forms can be more than just something fun to watch. As science sheds more light onto art’s significance within our society, people will better understand the beneficial effects of creative expression.