Hands to heART: Art Therapy and Voices of Cancer Digital Exhibition Catalogue

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Hands to heART Exhibition is co-presented by Loyola Marymount University’s Art Therapy Research Institute and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Wellness, Resilience and Survivorship Program. Debra Linesch, Ph.D. is a professor marital and family therapy and director of the Art Therapy Research Institute, and offers this introduction to the exhibition catalogue.

The full catalogue is available for free download here.

It is my privilege to introduce this catalogue. The artwork is beautiful, provocative and powerful as are the opportunities for self-expression currently available to cancer patients at Cedars-Sinai. This art illuminates the emotional challenges that are a part of this disease and the ways that the creative process can help.

Art therapy has a long history at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. MFT department founder Helen B. Landgarten pioneered the approach at Thalians Community Mental Health Clinic, the outpatient arm of CSMC’s department of psychiatry in the early 1970’s. Supported by Dr. Saul Brown and others, she began a certificate program, developed a master’s program and ultimately crafted the graduate program currently at Loyola Marymount University. Her humble explorations have spawned over 800 art therapists.

Although art therapy thrived at CSMC for many years, in time the hospital diminished its psychotherapeutic services, closing its out-patient clinic and its art therapy program. Suzanne Silverstein, one of Helen’s earliest students, is the only art therapist at CSCM, currently directing the Share and Care program for at-risk children in the community.

Recently, due to the vision of Dr. Arash Asher, art therapists began providing services in the hospital’s Wellness, Resilience and Survivorship program. The work with cancer patients and survivors has been astonishing; helpful in palpable ways to the participants and compelling in measurable ways to the clinicians.

In a small and poorly equipped kitchen, dozens of cancer patients have found companionship, relief, self-expressive tools and compassion in the special magic that occurs when art making is supportively and knowledgeably facilitated.

This exhibition has been curated to maximize awareness of the experiences the cancer impacted participants are exploring. Often the art powerfully speaks for itself and sometimes the artist’s statements clarify the experiences depicted. The art leads to a deepened awareness of the existential crisis of a cancer diagnosis and a broadened appreciation for the ways that artistic expression can soothe, inform and guide patients, family members and care givers on healing paths.

We look forward to expanding programs, sponsoring research and generally disseminating knowledge. Art therapy contributes to healing and CSMC is taking a bold step to integrate this modality in the services in offers.

Debra Linesch, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Marital and Family Therapy
Loyola Marymount University