Revealing The Light Within: The Healing Power of Expressive Arts

Revealing the Light Within Logo

Before the establishment of formal language as a means of communication, humans relied on symbols, visual imagery, sounds and movement. These innate forms of expression served as the earliest attempts to outwardly project personal and collective understandings of self and the surrounding world. Although the spoken word is today the most universal form of articulating feelings, many individuals find it difficult to express emotional and physical angst through verbal communication. In search of alternatives to psychoanalysis, more commonly known as talk therapy, therapists and other health professionals began to explore expressive methods promoting healing.

Beginning around the turn of the 20th century, art, music, dance/movement, drama and writing as forms of clinical therapy were in their infancy. Historically, these methods of expression have been in existence for hundreds if not thousands of years. In ancient Greece, philosophers including Aristotle and Plato wrote about the healing effects of music on the soul and music’s ability to sooth the mind and body. In modern times, Carl Jung supported the use of visual imagery as a vehicle for reaching the unconscious mind in connection with psychoanalysis. Today, these expressive therapies are used to assist people with a variety of needs, including emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical development.

From a brief historical journey through the development of these modalities to the applicable nature of creative therapies, Revealing the Light Within: The Healing Power of Expressive Arts presents a complex exploration of this frequently underrepresented and misunderstood field. A series of programs are offered during the Fall semester in conjunction with this exhibition. Talks and workshops will provide additional background to this innovative field, and will give a practical study of its benefits. This exhibition is created in collaboration with Miami University faculty and staff from various departments, and professionals in the field of expressive therapies.


Exhibition Programming


Tuesday, October 28, 5:30 p.m.

Immutable Passion: An Artist’s Life with Vascular Dementia

Dee Hansen and Susan Hansen Staves

When vascular dementia took its hold on Harry Hansen, an award-winning artist and art professor, the disease stole much of his identity. After a hiatus from artistic creation, his wife and daughter inspired him to use art as a therapeutic method to regain a creative and intellectual quality of life that lay dormant for half a decade.


Wednesday, November 12, 7-9 p.m.

It’s All About Making Art

Students, faculty and community members will have the opportunity to create a work of art with the guidance of a professional, practicing artist. Participants will then select several works that will serve as inspiration in a workshop with poet Gary Glazner the following evening. REGISTRATION REQUIRED*


Thursday, November 13, 5:30-7 p.m.

Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care

Gary Glazner, Director, Alzheimers Poetry Project, Brooklyn, NY

A high-energy workshop featuring simple techniques to help improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia by facilitating creative expression through poetry. Glazner will give examples on how to combine poetry with dance, music and visual art in structuring an arts program for people navigating memory loss.


*TO REGISTER FOR THESE FREE HANDS-ON PROGRAMS send reservation request to collinc5@miamioh.edu. E-mail confirmations will be provided.