Marney Schorr
Teaching Artist & Art Therapist

Art House Blog

Art In the Kitchen

Posted by Marney Schorr on July 11, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Years ago I taught my six year old niece that artists are not afraid to 'get their hands dirty'. She went on to tell all her friends and really enjoyed digging into paints. Some play teacher, some play doctor. She played 'artist'.

I would help her put her long thick brown hair in a bun and double tie the strings on her smock. That was all she needed to get started, well that, pink paint and some sparkles. She loved running over to me when she had completed a picture, her little hands covered in sand and paint and glue and glitter.  It's hard to believe she turns 11 this week. How proud we both are to be able to work in my Pittsfield studio, getting our hands dirty and letting loose.

But not everyone is down with making a mess. And while I had always assumed the bigger the mess, the happier the artist, I am wrong. Being an artist comes from an individual expression of aesthetic. For some it is neat squares, mechanical pencil drawings, videos and cameras, short films, or a dance routine. For others, clay from the bottom of a pond.

This week I began some art therapy with a new client - a sweet and warm blue-eyed teen who happens to be on the autism spectrum. I intended to teach him something about art, and instead he taught me.

Like my niece this young man is generally optimistic and easy to be around. And like my niece, he also loves to cook. I left my paints in their bins and tried something else. Instead of playing artist, we played 'Chef'.

I spent some time creating a three part art therapy plan based on integrated play principles I learned from a great source called Peer Play and the Autism Spectrum: The Art of Guiding Children's Socialization and Imagination.


We expanded his love of cooking into an entire restaurant experience. I adapted each step into a plan, where we could model a restaurant experience, take pictures, design a menu, go to the supermarket and dine out at a local eatery. I started with three skill-based categories. Here are some examples:

Play Domain: Symbolic Representation

Type of play:  Sensory, Functional & Pretend Play

Goal-based Activities: Cut out pictures of food from magazines; Look at foods in a cookbook or magazine; Sound out names for a Restaurant; Identify 3 favorite foods; Construct a recipe; Make a shopping list; Choose a restaurant name that is personal; Choose a design/symbol for a menu or take a pic for a menu.


Play Domain: Social Dimension

Type of Play:  Orienting, On-looking, Parallel Play, Common Focus/Goals

Goal-based Activities: Observing other shoppers in the supermarket; Shopping alongside others in the supermarket; Getting on line to buy groceries; Checking out at store



Fried chicken with broccoli salad, the big blue burger with fries and of course, chocolate ice cream sandwiches for dessert. All being cooked for a delicious artful dining experience with family and friends.

Art can be messy or it can be neat. And it can taste good too!

If you'd like some more info on this, please e-mail me!

Categories: Out in the Field

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1 Comment

Reply Lori Scena
10:46 AM on July 16, 2014 
You are not only an artist, you are a talented writer. Your blog on your new student/client was fascinating and well spoken. I love how you can adapt the art/learning/therapeutic into a cooking class! Wow, that not only shows how creatively you think, but how compassionate you are about helping others. I see "food art" as an expansion,,,,,,,Marney's ArtHouse Eatery. I'll bet the coffee is good there!

Love this site, keep up the interesting work.