From the Publisher
"Shaun McNiff remains first and foremost an ally of the soul. Here he offers us a stunning array of entry points into the creative process. We learn how to transform the most mundane aspects of life through artistic encounters and to engage with our most painful challenges creatively."—Pat B. Allen, Ph.D., ATR, instructor at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of Art Is a Way of Knowing
"Art Heals restores the therapeutic imagination to its central place in human life. The creative energy of this book will be recognized by all those who have been touched by the healing power of the arts. It is a masterly work by a master in the field of creative and expressive arts therapies."—Stephen K. Levine, Dean of the Doctoral Program in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education, Consulting, at The European Graduate School
"Shaun McNiff challenges us through these remarkable essays not only to take on the role of artist and dare to create our most compelling images, but also to dialogue with them and by doing so, to engage in a process of healing the inevitable wounds of being human. In a moment in history when the images most available to us are the most horrifying and numbing, McNiff offers a stunning antidote."—Robert Landy, Ph.D., RDT/BCT, Professor of Educational Theatre and Drama Therapy, New York University
"Reading Art Heals is like attending a retrospective exhibition of a master artist, with its careful selection, critique, and contemplation of McNiff's original ideas and guiding images. In refining and reimagining these ideas in the context of today, McNiff brings a fresh vision to his work and offers a valuable answer to the increasingly incoherent fragmentation of mental health care."—Lynn Kapitan, Ph.D., ATR-BC, Associate Professor of Graduate Art Therapy of Mount Mary College and author of Re-enchanting Art Therapy
Read an Excerpt
Often the places where we work generate very unattractive auras and disturbing environmental forces. I have constructed many hundreds of nomadic studios throughout my years of practice. I feel like a Bedouin traveler who keeps putting up and taking down his tent. In my travels I don't think I have ever worked in an ideal studio. There is always something that could be better organized in the space. I have contemplated constructing an ideal place, but maybe I should not. The perfect studio could establish an unrealizable standard for others. It may be better for me to keep working with whatever materials I
find in the different places I visit. In this way I demonstrate to others how the studio can be set up anywhere.
Groups repeatedly teach me how to maintain a spiritual presence amidst the din of a work area. If the keeper of the process relaxes, this helps everyone else do the same. The reverse is also painfully true. Everything depends upon our concentration and faith in the process.
I prefer to work in the best space possible, I have repeatedly discovered that the vitality of a studio has more to do with the creative presence generated than the physical features of rooms. I do not mean to discourage architects and interior designers from becoming involved in the art and healing movement, and especially the important work of "universal design" striving to create environments and technologies of communication that accommodate all people irrespective of their physical abilities. We want to have the best spaces possible, yet we must also work with whatever we have, especially when bringing the arts to places with limited financial resources.
Distractions and imperfections may even perversely feed the creative spirit because they are not unlike our often-disheveled lives. There may be a wondrous medicine released when a group fills an unattractive space with imaginative expressions.
When we creatively transform unappealing places, the change of attitude has a corresponding effect on how we perceive ourselves and the world.