NY ARTIST & ART THERAPIST ATARA GRENADIR teaches art therapy at Touro College in Brooklyn. Her new show, Conscious Community, is at the New Art Center in Manhattan at 580 8th Avenue, at 38th Street now through December 30th.
If you’re visiting family or friends in NYC (or just live here) take an hour or two to check out this passionate, vibrant, show.
Welcome, Atara. Can you tell us a little bit about why you originally became interested art therapy and how you got involved in teaching it?
I became interested in art therapy when my mother was on kidney dialysis in a clinic in Denton, Texas in 1983. I thought that these patients would be greatly helped if they could create art while hooked up to the machines filtering their blood for hours on end. After returning to New York from one of my trips, I saw an ad for an art therapy program. I enrolled that fall and several years later earned my ATR-BC accreditation.
I began teaching studio art at Touro College in 1988. Art and psychology were popular programs at the branch in Boro Park, Brooklyn (NY) and I saw the opportunity to create courses combining both disciplines.
Art can really give people a fluid way to articulate their inner selves as well as offer therapists the chance to gain insight into patients. Yet, how do you go from “art” to “healing”? What’s the actual process?
I feel that real healing comes from the patient’s active participation in the therapeutic process, and the drawings offer a mirror of the inner self. Pioneer art therapist Edit Kramer says that the very act of drawing is therapeutic. Current research has verified that drawing and painting change the physiology of the brain. Art exercises can unite polarities and offer cohesion to a fragmented self. Dialoging with the images can give immediate insight into repressed patterns.
You have a show right now in NYC at the New Art Center. The show has an intriguing name, Conscious Community.
We’ve seen some reproductions of the paintings—we love Teal, the painting at the top of this post. It is like seeing into forever-earth and sun-filled sky with the impossibly vibrant sunnyness actually reflected in the warm, green earth. There is a band of golden glow on the horizon. Also, there is a band of teal blue at the bottom.
Does it represent water? What is so interesting is that the sky, the sun, the earth are all fluid but the usually fluid element of water grounds the entire painting. To us, this represents the solidity and endurance of spiritual teachings—teachings that in the Jewish tradition are usually likened to water.
This is one of our favorite paintings to gaze into.
We’re look forward to speaking to Atara again and learn more about her and her art. You can visit her web site, too.
Atara London Grenadir was born in Pittsbugh, PA and lived most of her life in Oklahoma and Texas before moving to New York in 1982. She studied art at Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Oklahoma, where she received a Master of Fine Arts. Both of her parents, Jeanne and Larry London, were professional artists.