How Art Can Create Healing

Integrated art into healthcare

Mary Rockwood Lane, Ph.D.

“When you start making art, you tap into a wellspring of unbelievable natural talents,” says Mary Rockwood Lane, Ph.D. “You may not know it, but you are an artist. Everyone is an artist.” In this conversation, Mary tells how a friend reached out to help her emerge from her depression through art. Mary discovered that she loved oil painting. She found the experience liberating and she released her feelings without caring whether the paintings were beautiful or ugly. She just painted and as she did, she healed mentally, spiritually and physically.
Her own healing showed her the power of self-expression through art. In the early 90’s she merged her experience with art and her nursing background to pioneer the first artist-in-residence program of its type in the U.S. Mary brought artists into hospitals to work with patients, who were newly diagnosed with cancer or had other life-threatening illnesses, and their loved-ones. The difference that it made in helping them deal with trauma was amazing.
Her new book, Healing with the Arts: A 12 Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community, describes the program as it has become today. Mary says the most powerful healing is to share the art with others and create an art sharing community.

We Absorb Beauty.

Dr. Nancy shares her own experience of discovering she loved to paint with watercolors. She was going through a challenging time and was surrounded by artists and their beautiful watercolors. Although she had been discouraged as a child from trying to be an artist, she began to paint and in similar fashion to Mary, began to feel the healing process through personal expression. “You heal from the inside out,” says Dr. Nancy. “We must participate in our healing. A pill won’t do it alone.”
Mary agrees and adds, “When one person heals, it heals more than just you. It heals your family and your community.” When you surround yourself with beauty, you can’t help but heal. Mary says that beauty is everywhere. It’s up to us to see it.
Dr. Nancy reads a quote from Mary’s book to synthesize the breakthrough Mary experienced through her art: “I was the artist. My pain was the art and I was free.”

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Learn more possibilities of how art can promote healing. Check out for the complete story.

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