Posts Tagged ‘montreal’


Photo: MedLinx
Some doctors find that museum visits are good for patients’ health. And now museums have started to add art therapists to their staff.

I can relate to the former colleague who often dashed out of work to look at art when he was stressed. Even if I don’t especially like the art, I always find going to museums and galleries soothing. And in recent years, I’ve started to see an increasing number of articles about the potential of art to improve health and healthcare. Last year, for example, I posted about museum visits being incorporated into medical training. (Click here.)

Now at the Hypoallergic podcast, Hrag Vartanian reports on museums hiring art therapists — and doctors actually prescribing visits.

“In Canada, an incredible new program allows doctors to prescribe museum visits to their patients. Hyperallergic’s Zachary Small visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to talk with Stephen Legari, the first full-time art therapist on staff at a North American museum (he sees 1,200 patients a year), about his work in the city’s encyclopedic museum and what role art can plan in healing. …

“Zachary Small: After I saw the [Thierry Mugler] exhibition, I had the chance to meet with the museum’s art therapist on staff, Stephen Legari. … Canada is spearheading this movement. They are setting up systems where you can have a doctor prescribe you to the museum. …

“Hrag Vartanian: Weren’t they also doing that in the United Kingdom?

“ZS: Exactly. The UK actually started this movement and really innovated art as a therapy tool. That started in the mid-1990s with psychologists who found that art had some really positive effects on the brain. … A lot of other creative disciplines are doing this. Theater therapy is popular, especially with military veterans. I think the greater question we can ask is: Can art be used as a tool for therapy? When I sat down with Stephen a few weeks ago to discuss his work, I was thinking about that, and how art therapy actually functions in the room. …

Stephen Legari: The museum prescription was inspired by a movement in what’s called social prescribing. This has kind of taken off more in the UK. And in looking at the literature, we see that doctors were prescribing, in addition to things like eat better and get out there and walk more often, they were prescribing social activities within the patient’s community, with the belief that that was going to accelerate their healing and give them opportunity for more agency, that I am a participant in my healing. I’m not just waiting for something to be fixed for me. …

Art therapy is a therapeutic practice where we can explore your feelings, your memories, your desires, your thoughts about yourself and your life through making art — and then also through reflecting on it. In art therapy, we are focused on the process of making art, of being in the art-making and seeing what that feels like, and less on the product as something that we necessarily want to put a magnet on the fridge with, though many people do find that they feel good about the art that they make, and they want to keep it. …

“ZS: I’ve seen art therapy described as curative therapy. What does that mean?

“SL: That’s a charged word. I describe art therapy as a healing journey through the use of art and a therapeutic relationship. That’s maybe the shortest and best definition I’ve ever come up with. Art therapists believe in the containing power of art. So a participant like this can share something really traumatic, and the art helps to contain it. It’s not flowing out into the room and overwhelming everyone. … I don’t present art therapy as a replacement for any other kind of healthcare practice. It’s an ally. …

“HV: In the mid-1990s, Globe and Mail art critic John Bentley Mays wrote a fascinating article about how living with work by Toronto artist David Urban actually helped him with his depression. So I keep thinking about this. It’s unique that art serves all these different purposes in our lives.

“ZS: And it goes beyond illness. Stephen also works with immigrants who have just arrived in Canada, victims of violence — there’s a whole spectrum of people. That’s what makes his job really interesting and challenging; he has to figure out what artworks are going to help patients and edge them toward a deeper understanding of themselves.”

More here.

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“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” go the lyrics of the “Lobster Quadrille” (the “Mock Turtle’s Song“) in Alice in Wonderland.

And Wonderland is where you may imagine you have landed if you stumble upon this irresistible invitation to dance with your shadow.

At FastCoDesign, Mark Wilson explains how the dancers are drawn in.

“At some point between ages 3 and 13, we go from the life of the wedding dance floor to being the awkward kid standing at the edge of the gym wondering why we wore a silk shirt. …

“But what if our environment could encourage us to dance — without any balloons, bridal parties, or booze? A project called Mesa Musical Shadows, by Montréal’s Daily Tous Les Jours studio, is doing just that. It’s a public installation that turns a chunk of pavement in Arizona’s Mesa Arts Center into a giant game of Dance Dance Revolution that you play by moving your shadow.

“As detailed by Creative Applications, the system itself uses light sensors, coupled with speakers built into the mosaic tiles. If the tiles sense a shadow—or even just you stepping directly on the sensor—it plays a note. And so as many people swing and kick together, these notes combine into a harmonious soundscape generated in real time. …

“Now that the physical installation of sensors and speakers is done, the studio can see how people use it, and actually program the system’s entire logic to react in more complicated ways to a user’s behavior, like ramping up with more and richer sounds as a person becomes more and more engaged.” More.

Video: Creative Applications

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At the WordPress blog Montreal in Pictures, Martin has posted his beautiful photos of beautiful sand sculptures. Hard to believe this in a city beach.

Sand is challenging to work with. You have to keep it wet. But not too wet or it gets sloppy. The pros keep misting their creations lightly with spray bottles. I imagine sculpting in ice entails other very specific challenges. Especially if there is a warm spell at New Year’s.

Suzanne and John often participated in sand-sculpture contests in the summer. It was good fun, although you rarely saw anything as elaborate as the creations in Montreal. I don’t think anyone on the island organizes such competitions anymore, so we just try to be alert and have a camera ready for spontaneous solitary eruptions of creative energy.

Lots more great sand-sculpture photos by Martin here.

Photograph: Martin New at Montreal in Pictures

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We went with Suzanne and Erik to the Apollo in Harlem for an awesome jazz concert.

When I tell you about the talent that performed, you will never believe that the tickets were only $10. But sponsors put the show in the reach of pretty much everyone. Savion Glover (of Tap Dance Kid fame) may have been the best-known name, but the Temple University band and others were also great, not to mention two young women in their teens who blew the audience away. One was saxophonist Grace Kelly from Brookline, Mass.,  who already has a big reputation both here and abroad.

The other was Nikki Yanofsky, “a 17-year-old musical prodigy from Montreal. At the age of 13, Nikki became the youngest artist ever signed to Verve Records, when she recorded Airmail Special for the compilation We All Love Ella: Celebrating The First Lady Of Song. In 2008, Nikki’s debut release, Ella…Of Thee I Swing, a live tribute to Nikki’s hero, Ella Fitzgerald, earned two Juno nominations. Nikki’s musical education was further enhanced by collaborations with such jazz luminaries as The Count Basie Orchestra, Oliver Jones, and The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.” Her scat singing was amazing, and her ballads showed control and maturity beyond her age.

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Here are two interesting stories on urban roof gardens and adapting local vegetation for increasingly warm temperatures.

This one is from the New York Times: “Lufa Farms, founded by Mohamed Hage and Kurt Lynn, turned an unassuming office rooftop into a 31,000-square-foot greenhouse that grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce year-round and is a working example of a developing trend known as urban rooftop farming.” Read how they founders have turned this into a successful small business — in Montreal, of all places!

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the powers that be are preparing for warmer seasons: “Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.” Read more here.

Feel free to send comments to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com. I will include as many comments as possible in future entries.

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