The Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy makes it possible for the MMFA to consolidate its developmental focus on art therapy and well-being. All actions put in place are aimed at the same goal, namely to promote the well-being of a variety of groups, whether or not they have special needs.
In this connection, some new programming, designed in partnership with the health and academic communities, is offering a whole range of innovative projects adapted to persons living either with mental health issues, autism or eating disorders, or with difficulties related to learning, living together and social inclusion. Whether they visit exhibitions in the company of an educator, participate in creative workshops or present their creations to Museum audiences, program participants have meaningful artistic and social experiences.
Numerous professionals from the medical world and the community can join forces in an unusual practice setting, thanks to the Museum’s facilities, which include an art therapy workshop, a medical consultation room and an Art Hive, created in collaboration with the Department of Creative Arts Therapy at Concordia University.
Art has a positive effect on the physical and mental health and well-being of individuals. To back this up, researchers from various institutions in Quebec are studying the beneficial effects of a visit to the Museum, which may be comparable to the benefits of physical exercise.
Furthermore, the MMFA Art and Health Advisory Committee, composed of experts from the fields of health, art therapy, research and the arts, as well as representatives of philanthropy and the MMFA, offers its expertise and support for the development of potential partnerships and innovative projects implemented at the MMFA.
Patrick Beaulieu, The Arcs, two-part installation made up of 1,111 birds gathered into 15 groups, 2016, brass, copper and aluminum, automobile paint, bent laser-cut birds buffed with an abrasive brush; LED light fixture by Jutras Bathalon. This work was created in accordance with the Government of Quebec’s policy on the integration of art and architecture. Photo MBAM, Christine Guest
This project offers creative workshops aimed at breaking the isolation of teenagers and young adults living with speech disorders or sensory impairments, such as dysphasia, deafness and auditory processing disorders (APDs). This art therapy program is the result of a collaboration with the CIUSSS Centre-Sud de Montréal – Institut Raymond-Dewar (IRD) and Concordia University.
During visits to the MMFA, which are followed by group discussions led by an art therapist and contributors from the IRD, young people with serious communication difficulties are able to get beyond their disabilities and express themselves freely through an accessible means of communication, namely art. This judicious blend of social and cultural activities is conducive to the development of communication skills, promotes self-esteem and breaks isolation.
Sharing the Museum – Sharing the Douglas is an art therapy programme designed for persons living with eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia). Launched in 2013 by the MMFA in collaboration with the Douglas Institute and Concordia University, this project is now supervised by Dr. Howard Steiger (Douglas Institute) and Dr. Josée Leclerc (Concordia University).
Twice a month for six months, the participants in this programme come and interact with the works and take part in an artistic creation workshop. In the safe and positive environment offered by the Museum, they are able to overcome their feelings of isolation, create a feeling of belonging within their community, and build a positive perception of their body image.
Mental health experts, art therapists and Museum educators observe the participants’ moods and concerns, thus noting the real benefits of these visits.
Co-directed by the MMFA and the Department of Creative Arts Therapies, chaired by Yehudit Silverman, at Montreal’s Concordia University, the project Seeds of Hope aims to sensitize visitors to suicide and its effects on the family, loved ones and the community with the presentation of masks made by persons affected by suicide. For the project participants, tours focused on themes of resilience and expression of feelings, and creative workshops supervised by art therapists provided an opportunity to break through the isolation and veil of silence that too often cloaks this event. From the spring to the fall of 2016, four groups participated in this project, including Inuit from Nunavut and Nunavik with the organization Ivirtivik.
This art therapy research project explores the topic of “existential migration” as experienced by people who left their country voluntarily. Giving up everything to go and live in a foreign land leaves marks even on the imagination. It was actually to better understand the importance of artistic expression in this fascinating journey that the researcher Verra Heller, Ph.D., art therapist, psychotherapist, visual artist and professor at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), has been conducting this project at the MMFA since January 2017.
On the programme: visits and workshops leading to the construction of a life story, as well as the creation of works using motifs drawn from geographical maps, metaphors of the imaginary journey. These people who came here as immigrants are neither artists nor connoisseurs of art, but this does not prevent them from creating works that are rich with meaning, exhibited in a presentation at the MMFA.
La dramathérapie et l’art-thérapie pour l’intégration is a project designed to use the arts to create a feeling of belonging between children in regular classes and recently arrived children from Parc-Extension, one of Montreal’s most impoverished neighbourhoods, in which the school dropout rate is close to 50%.
Born of a partnership between the École Barthélémy-Vimont, belonging to the Commission scolaire de Montréal, and the Museum, this project brings together a Grade 4 class of mostly immigrant children and a reception class of recent arrivals. Following tours of the Museum’s collections, discussions and workshops, the 25 young people will together create a little play inspired by Quebec works seen at the MMFA. The Grade 4 class will help the newly arrived pupils to express themselves, translate for them and, if necessary, help the creative process along. Under the watchful eye of Marie-Émilie Louis, a drama therapist, and Julie Vignola, an art therapist, these young people will thus discover the culture of Quebec while forging links among themselves.