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/
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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:
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.
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
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
Updated: Mar 12, 2018 05:26 PM EDT
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.
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."
Young Artists Go Public to Fight Stigma
Berkshire Eagle May 5, 2017