Arts & Healing


We believe that engaging in the arts is life enhancing.


A History Arts & Healing

Since 1996, Smith Center has been incorporating the arts and creativity into the process of healing. Therapeutic arts sessions are a key component of Smith Center’s signature Cancer Retreats, and we offer several individual creativity workshops each month at our U Street community center led by expert facilitators. We also run an Artist-in-Residence program for veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and operate the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, featuring contemporary artists addressing themes around larger issues of healing.

The Connection Between Healing and Creativity

Particularly in times of stress, trauma, illness, and loss, engaginPainting by a Smith Center Cretivity Workshop participantg in creative activities can promote healing and wholeness in terms of engendering positive outlook, accessing inner resources, uplifting spirit, and seeing the possibilities inherent in life. Being creative is life-affirming and engages our capacity for wonder, hope and new beginnings even in the midst of great difficulty.

The arts have been shown to contribute to healing in many ways and provide:

  • Tools for rehabilitation and recovery
  • An outlet for self-expression
  • A departure from physical and mental challenges
  • Stress reduction
  • New skills and new ways of being in the world

As children we are each naturally creative – it is an inborn and important gift we carry as human beings. For many of us, this natural ability often feels lost, ignored or buried under years of criticism.

Our earliest forms of medicine and healing included music, literature, and visual imagery. The first healers in almost every culture were shamans whose job it was to take care of the soul, and they did so in concert with symbols, drumming, songs, costumes and dance.

Everyone has the ability to create – if we can refrain from judgment and from thinking that the final project must be something worthy of hanging on a wall or listening to in a concert.

Smith Center’s numerous arts programs and events – creativity workshops, Artist in Residence program, gallery exhibitions, and the Art Advisory – help to inspire and reawaken that lost creative spirit and connect one with greater healing.

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