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Many artists whose work we so admire were haunted by depression, anxiety, and mania. They used painting as art therapy during times when their minds played tricks on them contributing to negative and anxious thoughts about their own talent, and the beauty of life itself. One of the most iconic paintings about mental illness is The Scream by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. Munch once wrote, “I cannot get rid of my illnesses for there is a lot in my art that exists only because of them.” Through December 2021, the Sullivan Museum and History Center is presenting, Liquid Mind: Abstractions by Jennifer Bryan, an exhibition featuring abstract paintings by Norwich alumna Jennifer Bryan ’05. Bryan’s collection of abstract work is meant to convey current states of mind. It captures the ebbs and flows of manic depression while seizing moments otherwise dulled due to short-term memory loss. Her work is a statement about mental health, and the importance of self-care and healing.

The Sullivan Museum is presenting a Lunch and Learn panel discussion at noon on October 13, 2021, to address the therapeutic benefits of art as it relates to mental illness. Registered art therapist and panelist, Michelle Lesnak, uses art therapy as a way for people to express themselves nonverbally. She received her Master of Arts in Art Therapy in 1987 from Vermont College of Norwich University. Art therapy is a treatment approach that integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve well-being. Some artists, like Jennifer Bryan, use art to provide self-care and healing. To represent artists in our discussion, the panel will be joined by Cara Armstrong, educator, writer, and illustrator who was also trained as an architect. Armstrong serves as the Director of Norwich University’s School of Architecture + Art. Rounding out the panel and joining Lesnak and Armstrong, will be Kevin Fleming, a cognitive psychologist and Chair of Norwich University’s Department of Psychology and Education.

We hope you will join us on October 13, 2021, at noon for “How Art Can Heal: A Panel Discussion,” a Sullivan Museum and History Center Lunch and Learn program. Lunch will be provided for all attendees, and masks are required for this event. Space will be limited so we do ask that you contact the museum at (802) 485-2183 no later than Monday, October 11, to reserve a seat. If space fills, we will set up a secondary viewing area in the museum gallery.

“How Art Can Heal” is sponsored by the Museum Associates of the Sullivan Museum and History Center, (Norwich University’s School of Architecture + Art,) Norwich University’s Department of Psychology and Education, and Norwich University’s chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

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