NUarts Gallery & Studios
311 North St #12
Pittsfield MA 01201
IN THE STUDIO
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 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
- The family art therapy project at the Christian Center
- Arts in Recovery for Women
- Transforming Depression with Art
- Art & DBT Groups
- Art, Food, Body
- Creative Aging, Art & Legacy (for older adults0
- Women & The Creative Self, Visual Journaling, Summer Art Retreats
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, MA Local Cultural Councils including Northern Berkshires, Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Lenox, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge and Northern Berkshire United Way. in 2018, Marney received the MA Statehouse Award for Leadership in Suicide Prevention from Senator Hinds. She also received Berkshire Magazine´s Top 25 of the Berkshires Award.
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 a Guest Lecturer at Springfield College, Anna Maria College, Caldwell College and Empire State College, as well as an Art Therapy Internship Supervisor at Springfield College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Marney teaches CEU courses for professionals and has been invited to present nationally for the American Art Therapy Association and as Chair of the Suicide Prevention Track at the 9th Annual Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC.
She is active in research and writing and is currently working on her first book with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Saving Young Lives: Art Therapy and Suicide Prevention with a tentative release date in 2020.
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
Berkshire 25 Most Dedicated, Most Creative, Most Influential for 2018
The Berkshires is home to a community of people of all ages, backgrounds, and personalities—residents who take their passions and run with them, creating a diverse, meaningful, compassionate, and spirited lifestyle. From entrepreneurs to activists, these individuals create the foundation that makes the Berkshires what it is. This is our fifth year honoring a select group of individuals who are eager to move mountains for fellow members of our community. Each brings forward the best of what humanity has to offer, setting the bar high for those who follow. It is our distinct pleasure to present to you the 2018 Berkshire 25.
Marney Schorr launched Arts in Recovery for Youth (AIRY) in 2017, an expressive arts and skills based suicide prevention program for youth ages 13-24. A teaching artist and art therapist, Marney combines her passion for art with her desire to help others. Her 16-week program, which meets at three locations in Berkshire County, helps participants develop strategies for coping through the expressive arts and meditation.
September 2018 issue of TownVibe Berkshire
Art therapist honored at State House for work on suicide prevention
By: Elisha Machado
Updated: Mar 12, 2018 05:26 PM EDT
Elisha Machado, 22News State House Correspondent - BOSTON (WWLP) - On average, one person dies by suicide every 14 hours in Massachusetts. But one western Massachusetts organization is taking action to prevent suicide in the region.
The Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention is using art as tool to support youth dealing with suicidal thoughts. Through painting, collages and building, young people are able to learn strategies for self soothing and expressing themselves.
The 12 week art therapy program, called "Arts in Recovery for Youth," helps support young people ages 13 to 24 who suffer from suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Art Therapist Marney Schorr who developed the program was honored at the State House on Monday for her leadership in suicide prevention. "The art allows them another way to communicate," she told 22News. "It also helps them express their feelings and have a discharge, a release of some of the urges that they have."
Schorr told 22News that through the program, there have been no further suicide attempts and participants are reaching out for help more when they need it.
Suicide prevention advocates are urging lawmakers to increase funding in the state budget to support more programs like Arts in Recovery for Youth.
Berkshires art therapist awarded at Statehouse for work in youth suicide prevention
To view more of this gallery or to purchase photos, click here.
Jenn Smith — The Berkshire Eagle
Posted Monday, April 9, 2018 6:21 pm
Pittsfield-based arts therapist Marney Schorr shows off a group of masks created by teens and young adults in her Arts in Recovery for Youth studio program.
JENN SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
By Jenn Smith , The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — Clearing a cloudy mind, healing a heavy heart and calming an angry voice can be both messy and colorful work. So why not work it out in the art studio?
In the mind of local artist and art therapist Marney Schorr, and in a growing body of research and evidence, art studios — with thoughtful instructions and structure — can offer a safe haven for freedom of expression through paint and clay versus fists and fear. There are no clinician's clipboards or couches in the art studio, just chairs, canvases and an open invitation to find creative release.
"It works because it's not a classroom and it's not an office," Schorr said.
It also seems to work because of its multipronged approach. In addition to the students' willingness to be there, the program requires parental or guardian consent and involvement, and also requires that youths have a formal therapy plan or clinical treatment program.
Schorr was among a group of nine recipients of a Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention "Leadership in Suicide Prevention" award. Schorr, who went to the Statehouse on March 12 to accept the award, said it "felt amazing" to be recognized and applauded by a mix of legislators, members of law enforcement, suicide survivors and community advocates for the work she does with teens and young adults in this small corner of Western Massachusetts.
"People don't get awards for recovery," she said. "But these youths should be praised and rewarded. No one's making them come here. They're doing the work."
A year of turnaround
Schorr piloted the Arts in Recovery for Youth initiative last June with support from the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention and individual donations. The free, 12-week program is designed for people ages 13 to 24 who struggle with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, or who have survived a suicide attempt.
There are seven young women and men currently involved in Arts in Recovery for Youth, which they refer to as AIRY. Some of them are also involved in Barrington Stage Company's Playwright Mentoring Project, which encourages young people to channel their life experiences and challenges in a creative way.
Schorr's program has been so successful in teaching young people skills and creative ways to cope, that the youth themselves will present an Arts in Recovery for Youth Workshop on May 2 at the annual Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Conference in Framingham. Schorr has subsequently begun teaching workshops for other youth advocates interested in replicating this program in other parts of the state.
The young artists' work will also be exhibited as part of the May First Fridays Artswalk and ArtWeek in Pittsfield, which kicks off May 4. The Arts in Recovery for Youth display will be shown in Studio 12 at NUarts Studios and Gallery, 11 North St.
Peggy Morse, a longtime leader with the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention, helped nominate Schorr for her award.
"It's so heartwarming to see these lives being impacted in such a personal way," she said. "They're struggling and they're not cured of suicidal ideation, but now they have really concrete skills for developing coping mechanisms and they have such strong support base through this program."
Schorr said the true benefit of the program is less about the finished product and more about the process.
"The nature of artmaking accesses a different part of the brain. It shows that there are effective skills out there for suicide prevention to be learned, so we teach them the skills," she said. "There is buy-in in this room, and the youth are seeing this space as essential to their recovery."
Her work is her healing
For Schorr, finding her stride in this work is also what keeps her going.
There was a time where she struggled with her own suicidal thoughts and depression, and felt it was hard to see a future. Eventually she found a sense of grounding with her work in art and recovery learning communities that provide peer support and resources. Recovery learning communities are consumer-run networks of self-help/peer support, information and referral, advocacy and training activities.
Schorr went on to earn her master's degree in clinical art therapy at Long Island University on top of her bachelor's degree in visual art at Empire State College. She's spent the past decade studying and teaching in the arts therapy field and has taught courses with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College and at Empire State College, and has been an art therapy internship supervisor at Springfield College.
"My work is part of my mental health," Schorr says. "It keeps me driven because I see it working. ... There is so much hope in this work."
She said the work is "also a response to a community need."
The 13- to 24-year-old population she works with has been identified by the state Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Program as being imminently at-risk for suicide and in need of additional support. According to national data, sui-cide is the second lead-ing cause of death for youth ages 15 to 24. For every sui-cide death, it is esti-mated that there are about 147 people exposed and 18 who are intimately affected by the suicide death.
Schorr is now seeking to secure grants to expand the Arts in Recovery for Youth program to Northern and Southern Berkshire County, and to also start a support group for parents and guardians.
The therapy part of the arts program uses a specific curriculum, which requires active participation, including a weekly self-report from students based on the use of new interpersonal and self-regulating skills.
Schorr also integrates dialectical behavior therapy, an approach designed to give a person skills to become more resilient in adverse circumstances and more tempered in dealing with abrasive relationships. This can include techniques like meditation, breathing regulation, and illustrating personal narrative storyboards to help discover how a person is thinking and feeling.
Schorr's current students have taken the latter skills and used them to create a "graphic novella" on how to address negative feelings. On facing pages, one page represents a student's struggle through imagery and perhaps a few words. The opposite page is illustrated by another student offering helpful advice. For example, to the student who drew an "anxiety monster," another drew a reminder to keep calm and count to 10.
Another popular activity is the use of masks. The youths are able to, through paint, glitter, yarn and other media, create their best "warrior" face with which they can face the world. One young woman painted hers with a spiritual third-eye of mindfulness. Another put lines and coils of wires on the inside of his mask, to represent internal struggle. The face of the mask was still red and black, but less restricted.
By finding what represents them, Schorr said, the youths have gained ground in developing self-confidence and ways to positively express themselves. In fact, it was the young adults themselves who approached her about doing a workshop at the state suicide prevention conference, not her putting them up to it.
"When you start accessing power and emerge from that state of struggle, you begin to realize that you have choices and you have skills and tools you can use," Schorr said. "These young people absolutely amaze me. They bring me to tears some time. They're so supportive and insightful and talented."
First Fridays Artswalk features families' art at The Christian Center
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."
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."
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.
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.