Marney Schorr
Teaching Artist & Art Therapist

IN THE STUDIO

 

Marney Schorr is a Teaching Artist & Art Therapist with over 20 years of experience. She lives and works in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Marney's studio practice includes painting, drawing, mixed media, assemblage, sand tray and collage. She creates abstracts and personal narratives with a focus on the therapeutic use of art materials. Her works have been featured in several shows in NY, Long Island and Western MA and are currently available for purchase at NU Arts Gallery & Studios in Pittsfield, MA. http://nuartsgallery.com/

To see the latest info about Marney Schorr, LIKE her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/marneysarthouse/

IN THE COMMUNITY

 


Marney is committed to making art therapy accessible through community and volunteer projects. She facilitates regular local art therapy groups and events for adults, children, teens and families including:

   -   Arts in Recovery for Youth

   -   Culture, Identity & Art (for late teens & young adults)

   -   The family art therapy project at the Christian Center

   -   Arts in Recovery for Women

   -   Art Therapy & the 12 Steps for Women in Recovery


   -   Self-Soothing with Art & DBT

   -   Transforming Depression with Art Scholarship program

   -   Women & The Creative Self

   -   Art & Legacy (for older adults)


She has served families from all walks of life and circumstances including physical and mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse and traumatic brain injury.


Marney is the recipient of grant awards for her community work from the Department of Public Health, Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention, Pittsfield Cultural Council and Lenox Cultural Council.


She has worked in connection with NAMI, Berkshire Children & Families, Family Resource Center, OLLI, The Christian Center, Berkshire Pathways, BCAC, Project Reconnect, The Brien Center, Community Enterprises, Claire Teague Senior Center, Clinical & Support Options, Treehouse, Berkshire Arts Festival, Stephentown Library, Behold! New Lebanon, Trading Post Farms, Breast Cancer Inc., LI Head Injury Association, and the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Services. 

IN THE CLASSROOM

Marney earned her Master of Arts in Clinical Art Therapy at Long Island University and her Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art at Empire State College. She graduated from both with high honors.

She teaches courses in Art Therapy at Berkshire Community College in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program and is an Art Therapy Internship Supervisor at Springfield College. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at Empire State College.

Marney is active in research, writing and presenting in her fields of interest, including suicide prevention, and the relationship between art, neuroscience and trauma. Marney teaches CEU courses for professionals and has been invited to present nationally for the American Art Therapy Association. 

She continues to offer a variety of expressive arts classes (see Groups & Classes). To attend an OLLI Class with Marney, see their website at: http://www.berkshireolli.org/index.html

IN THE NEWS

Young Artists Go Public to Fight Stigma

Berkshire Eagle May 5, 2017


PITTSFIELD — As public art projects go, the one conceived around this paint-streaked table is subtle. Its name, CIA, suggests something covert.

And so works created in a 311 North St. studio went public on the sly at first, tucked as messages into books to be discovered at random by patrons of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Other small art pieces were left this winter and spring at the bus station, or in a McDonald's bathroom.

But on Wednesday evening, young people engaged in the Culture, Identity & Art (CIA) project with art therapist Marney Schorr dropped the element of surprise. They and took to Park Square with messages of hope and resilience.

Many share histories of abuse and trauma — and for that reason had mixed feelings about taking their experiences public.

"She wants her message and her art out there," Schorr said of one young participant recovering from sexual assault.

On signs, posters, and their own presence, a half dozen young artists declared on the highly visible corner that they would not be defeated or defined by difficulties they've experienced.

Participants had painted small plastic masks to reflect issues with which they struggle. One bore the words "hope" and "fear" on the forehead, expressing conflicted feelings that may underlie attempted suicide, Schorr said.

"The happy side and the stormy side, and living with that duality," she said.

One artist came with her foster mother, Liz Chapman, and a message, in glue and glitter, that read, "Believe in your dreams."

This artist, a Pittsfield teen named Allison, prowled the sidewalk as a stiff breeze pushed her hair about. She smiled at passing drivers, called out to people who waved and held a sign that said: "Show Your True Colors."

"Anyone can make art if they please," said Allison, who asked that her last name not be used. "It shows the feeling that people have in their art."

Another art therapy participant, Arianna, 13, held a large sign reading, "Fight Stigma With Art."

"I just like to bring awareness to things that people overlook," she said.

Or to things people misunderstand, Arianna said, like self-harm through cutting. That is not attention-seeking behavior, in her view.

In one of her projects, she joined with others to create messages to insert into library books.

"We wrote on every one that it was a homeless piece of art," Arianna said. "You can express yourself in a way you never could before. It's nice when others see what you see."

'Closing storybook'

Schorr has worked as an art therapist since 2009, the last seven years in Berkshire County.

Because of trauma participants may have faced, art therapists need to be ready to respond, Schorr said. As artworks come to life, she folds in calming exercises able to help people regulate their emotions.

But in her experience, art therapy helps in that very process.

"When you complete a piece of artwork, there's a sense of containment," she said.

She works to underscore that by speaking about the art as a metaphor, not as lived experience that might, when explored, re-traumatize a participant.

"Closing the storybook" is a phrase art therapists use, as they work to help people deal with hardship. "It's an alternative form of communication to help them," Schorr said.

This year's projects in Schorr's studio got a boost from a determined intern, a Springfield College junior from Swampscott named Lauren Muller. Over the course of the school year, Muller spent 240 hours with Schorr's art therapy projects, including the ongoing CIA venture.

The guerilla aspect to art-making came as a surprise, said Muller, an art therapy and psychology major.

"That was really new for me to learn about," she said. "The art has the ability to reach and affect people. That's why it's different from a studio setting."

Traveling art

Muller said that when creating messages to slip into books, participants thought of them as traveling works of art. The messages varied.

"Things that we thought would be impactful and reach young people," she said.

To create the work she left at the Pittsfield bus station, Muller cut letters out of a magazine. She fashioned a collage using part of a map page. "Don't forget why you started this," the work said.

As in started a bus journey? she was asked. Maybe, or maybe not, she said.

"I wanted it to be relatable to a lot of different situations," Muller said. "Now it has a life of its own. Just knowing it's out there."

For more than an hour Wednesday, Muller stood — on the last day of her internship — beside a poster that challenged assumptions about self-harm. It invited people to decorate jigsaw puzzle pieces joined in an outline.

The poster read, in part, "For those of you who have never been touched by self-harm, know that it is NOT a sign of weakness. We are strong, resilient, and we are human."

"My hope is that can stimulate some thoughts," Muller said, as she stood by a wind-whipped war monument in Park Square.

One of Schorr's summer projects will be an "Arts in Recovery" program for teens and young adults who are survivors of suicide attempts. For information, email Schorr at [email protected] Because of the seriousness of the issue, the program will shape "safety plans" for each participant, including a mandatory connection with a clinician.

"There's such a need here," Schorr said. "But it's difficult to get youth to commit and come out. Art is a magnet, which is great."

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.




New group taps community strength to combat suicide


Berkshire Eagle, February 19, 2017

PITTSFIELD — Suicide ended more lives in Massachusetts in recent years than homicides and car accidents combined.

A new coalition of volunteers in Berkshire County aims to do something about that.

Though the suicide rate is lower in the state than the nation, it has been increasing — spurring action by a network of human service workers working out of the George B. Crane Memorial Center in Pittsfield.

"There are a lot of synergistic connections happening that are really quite amazing. We have this momentum going," said Marney Schorr, a Pittsfield art therapist.

Schorr is one of a half dozen people meeting regularly to develop new resources and outreach for people in crisis in the county.

Despite a $75,000 December budget cut by the governor's office that hobbled the center's planned expansion this year, the 81 Linden St. site is the rallying point for new peer-led human services groups, including a new anti-suicide effort.

The existing Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention and the Systems of Care Committee are moving their meetings to the Crane Center.

New programs will provide help to people cope with grief after a death related to addiction and will offer training in suicide prevention.

At the same time, volunteers affiliated with Berkshire Health Systems, the Brien Center and other groups are helping the 6-year-old nonprofit center reach beyond its traditional focus on recovery from addiction. It has long hosted meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

"That's kind of where this group is coming in," said Christine Decker, who works with BHS but joined the new effort as a member of the suicide prevention coalition. "It's expanding out from AA and NA. It's coming in together to make sure that these populations have supports. It helps us all get connected, rather than working in silos."

"We've all been pulled in here," said Alan Vreeland, a peer specialist with the Brien Center who is backing the new work at the Crane center as a volunteer.

Peggy Morse, who leads the county's suicide prevention program, said the project is responding to a known problem.

"There is definitely an increasing trend in suicide deaths as well as addiction deaths," Morse said.

Peer focus

The new group's work aims to add a different kind of expertise to traditional suicide prevention programs: the experience of survivors able to bring the insight of "lived experience" to support groups.

It is designed to complement, not replace, traditional clinical approaches to suicide prevention, organizers say.

Natan Cohen, who runs an Alternatives to Suicide program locally, is part of the team expanding outreach through the Crane center. His program moved to the center after losing its former storefront homes on First Street and before that on North Street.

Cohen's program is committed to frank and open discussions about suicidal thoughts, which he believes traditional approaches do not always embrace. At meetings, participants discuss thoughts of self-harm without judging one another.

"We talk about what we want to do next in our lives. It's extremely empowering for people," he said. "We're offering a space where a different kind of relationship can flourish between people, a different kind of conversation."

He added, "`This group has saved my life.' I hear that all the time. [The goal is] taking that out into the community."

Morse said it is essential that people in the community have access to support systems that understand the pressures they face.

"They will find a lot of strength in expressing what's happening to them," Morse said of peer support groups. "There is no much peers can offer each other that they can't find in a medical setting. You find that you're not alone. You need that base connection with other people. That's what we mean by `peer.'"

Word-of-mouth referrals, Morse and others say, are key to bringing awareness of the new help to people who need it.

According to Carlene Pavlos, director of the Bureau of Community Health & Prevention, in the state Department of Public Health, 47 percent of suicide cases involved people with mental health issues.

A recent DPH report said that 60 percent of suicides in Massachusetts involve people aged 35 to 64. Men outnumber women in suicides, three to one. The highest numbers involved white, non-Hispanic people.

The state's own suicide prevention programs make a point of training survivors to facilitate support groups, including bereavement groups for families. Partnerships with peer-led community groups is one goal for the DPH, its website explains.

For good reason, said Morse, head of the county's suicide prevention effort.

"All of these things create a strong sense of hope," she said.

A new program, "Grief Support Group for Traumatic Loss," starts March 7 and will run the first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. People should call Morse at 413-441-6316 in advance to register. It will be co-facilitated by Corinne Case of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

Douglas W. Malins, president of the Crane center, is optimistic that despite the funding loss, his group can provide new resources to people in crisis and in recovery.

"We want to work together and support each other," he said.

Too often, families lose members and endure their grief in isolation, in part due to lingering stigma over both addiction and suicide. "They have no idea what just happened to them," Malins said.

Schorr, the art therapist who runs a program called "Arts in Recovery for Women," as well as other local projects, said she is confident members of the community will show support and resilience.

"Isn't Pittsfield that kind of place?" she asked. "The community voice here is just so strong."

For more information on any of the new programs, call the George B. Crane Memorial Center at 413-464-7066.

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/new-group-taps-community-strength-to-combat-suicide,498844

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