The Healing Power of Art

Mary Chaplin (, “Metamorphose of Thoughts,” oil on panel, 21” x 25”.

As an instrument for healing, art takes many different forms — from paintings that bring comfort to hospital patients to photographs that raise awareness about important social issues. When artists express themselves creatively, they pave the path to healing for themselves and for others.

There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that proves art has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions and the nervous system, and that it can actually raise serotonin levels. Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world.

For over a decade, one of my ongoing projects has been organizing online exhibitions related to “The Healing Power of Art” for Manhattan Arts International. We recently began accepting entries for our next exhibition that will begin in April 2015. As always, we invite a variety of art leaders who share our vision to serve as jurors and give awards. We also ask artists from around the world to submit their jpeg entries in addition to statements about how their submissions relate to the healing process.

Here are some of those submissions:

Darlene Kaplan: “Oriental brush painting for me is ‘food for the soul.’ The calming effect of grinding the ink before painting along with the energy that is put into throwing the ink on paper is just the greatest of pleasures that only this style of art allows me to feel. My art is therapeutic.”

Ann Dunbar: “With luminous layers of stitched silken mass on painted ethereal backgrounds, fleeting moments of nature’s secrets are captured forever. Nature’s energy is like a medicine that enhances my own life, and as an artist, I am honoured to share my uplifting experiences to offer hope, love and enrichment to others.”

Jocelyn Chemel: “On a trip to South Africa I photographed the stones people painted on and left outside Nelson Mandela’s home, thanking him for saving the country. I added his inspirational quotes to these photographs. My art is to inspire people, spread his messages of hope universally and support education non-profits.”

Mary Chaplin: “In 2005, when my father was fighting cancer, seeing him so ill became unbearable. One day, I went to the sea ‘to breathe.’ En route I stopped at an old chapel. Reflections of moving light created a magical moment of peace that soothed my pain, now symbolized in my paintings.”

Casey Shannon: “I survived a massive brain-stem stroke using art, and now paint with my non-dominant left hand. My heartfelt mission is to tell everyone that there is hope and life after stroke or traumatic life-altering experiences. I inspire others not only with my words but also with my art.”
There are many of us who believe that art should be taught as a life skill to children and serve as a resource for adults, so that when we face challenges, we can turn to inner resources, rather than pharmaceutical drugs or self-destructive outlets. One day I hope we have a fully expressive, arts-integrated society.

For us at Manhattan Arts International, “The Healing Power of Art” exhibitions provide a much-needed forum. By sharing positive healing art and artists’ stories with others we hope to bring light to an important subject.

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their highest potential through personalized consultations, articles and a free email newsletter on She is founder of Manhattan Arts International, and, where she rewards artistic excellence through curated art programs. Manhattan Arts International recently launched The Healing Power of Art website.