Division of Expressive Therapies
Professional Title: University Professor
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Art, art therapy, psychology of art, arts-based research
Area of Work and Concentration at Lesley: Expressive Therapies, Art Therapy
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: • Expressive Therapies Studio• Art Therapy Studio• Art-Based Research
Education: A.B., History, Fordham College; Art Students League of New York, painting with Theodoros Stamos; M.A., Psychology, Goddard; Ph.D., Psychology of Art, Union Institute
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Books include:Art as Research (forthcoming 2013)Integrating the Arts in Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice (2009)Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul (2004)Creating with Others: The Practice of Imagination in Art, Life and the Workplace (2003)Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go (1998) Art-Based Research (1998)Art as Medicine (1992)Depth Psychology of Art (1989)Over 50 chapters have been published in books and over 150 essays and reviews in journals and magazines with translations into Russian, German, Dutch, and other languages. Over the past forty years hundreds of lectures and keynotes have been given throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel at universities, professional meetings, and public gatherings. Since the early 1970’s McNiff exhibited paintings at the Addison Gallery of American Art, The Winfisky Gallery at Salem State College, The Longwood Gallery at The Massachusetts College of Art, the Joseloff Gallery at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Endicott College, the Jane Deering Gallery, and other universities and galleries.Honors and awards include: Citations from the House of Representatives and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for founding Expressive Arts Therapy (2009); Honorary Life Member Award of the American Art Therapy Association (1997); Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Mount Mary College (1993).
Shaun McNiff teaches and lectures on the arts and healing, creativity practice, leadership, and art-based research. An exhibiting painter whose art assimilates different elements of his lifework, McNiff is the author of many books that have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. In 1974 McNiff established Lesley’s Integrated Art in Education and Expressive Therapies graduate programs, both emphasizing relationships amongst the arts and other areas of professional practice. In 1995 he left Lesley to serve as Provost and Dean of Endicott College and returned in 2002 as the first University Professor. "Every student and professor is shaped by their experiences," says McNiff, “and one of the things I admire most about Lesley is that since its founding over 100 years ago the University strives to provide, and encourage students to seek, the broadest experiences possible from multiple internships and field-based learning. Experiential learning gives each of us our unique voice and vision, and the more experiences our graduates have, the more confident they become.”Artist StatementMy paintings, writings, teaching, public presentations, and institutional leadership comprise a single effort that I call “The art/life work, 1970 to date.” A sustained reluctance to separate elements of creation from one another and a struggle with conventional ideas about what art is have helped me see what it can be and how doing many things makes a more complex work of art.Painting is my most consistent discipline of imaginative inquiry and expression. The two early and lasting influences were studies with the New York School painter Theodoros Stamos (1967-1968) and my work with untrained artists at the Danvers State Hospital where I became an art therapist in March of 1970. The patients in the art studio taught me how to paint in direct and authentic ways in response to the immediate environment as I combined figurative imagination with the abstract expressionist emphasis on spontaneous gesture, color, and the physical qualities of paint.Art making for me is a process of research and learning which informs not only the process of painting but my studies of the psychology of art and therapy. I made drawings and paintings of Danvers patients as they did the same with me. In keeping with my closeness to the Boston conceptual art community I exhibited the work in the mid 1970s as a single piece expressing art/life/work integration. Later I applied art medicine to my own struggles while working as a dean and feeling alienated from the creative life. After drawing in meetings I expanded the images quickly into paintings in my studio that I exhibited on unstretched canvas as Art Alchemies in museum and gallery shows presented as events lasting just one day.During the 1980s and 1990s I made art in the training studios that I led in various parts of world mixing features of the particular locale with imagination and dreams. The imagery was spontaneous, usually on paper, and I called it art therapy art trying to let it happen as naturally as possible. I incorporated paintings into my books Depth Psychology of Art (1989) and Art as Medicine (1992) and showed the work in public lectures as art events. It was the first time an art therapist revealed personal expressions in this way and it encouraged others to integrate artistic expression into education, practice, and the public persona of the discipline.In the early 2000s I began to paint in response to the immediate place where I live and explore the self as relationships with other people, places, things, and imagination. I see my current work in the tradition of the Cape Ann locale and identify with Nell Blaine, the early Stuart Davis, and Marsden Hartley who are part of this place, its self, and memory.Theory of PracticeI apply creative expression to all sectors of life—psychotherapy, education, health care, spirituality, leadership, research, and social transformation. This practice is based on three primary principles: 1. Both art and healing transform afflictions into affirmations of life as affirmed throughout human history; 2. Artistic activity in various media generates palpable creative energy that acts as a transformative force in ways that transcend conscious controls and fixations; and 3. The establishment of creative space, in my practice augmented by group work, supports and stimulates the circulation of creative energy that finds its way to areas that need to change.The defining aspect of arts therapy as contrasted to the more universal ways that art heals involves the presence of a therapist acting as a helper, guide, and witness to what occurs within the creative space that therapists establish with individuals and groups.The discipline of art-based research emerged organically from my publications and supervision of the thesis studies of Lesley master’s students during the 1980s and early 1990s. I currently work with doctoral candidates in exploring how artistic activity in all media can be used as a primary mode of inquiry and teach studio-based courses and sessions to graduate and undergraduate students which similarly investigate how the expressive arts therapy process can be best known and enhanced through art making.
Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies
Advanced Professional Certificate in Expressive Therapies
Advanced Professional Certificate in the Arts in Health
Expressive Therapies Faculty
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