In the Flow
Artists from The Living Museum

The therapeutic value of art has long been observed, but only recently understood. Throughout history, countless individuals have experienced the healing powers of art, using their creative talents to sooth the psyche, uplift spirits, and nurse emotional wounds.

Nowhere is this phenomenon better understood than at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, a state institution in Queens Village and home to the Living Museum-a 40,000 square foot art studio and gallery that offers a supportive, nurturing environment to artists coping with mental illness. The patients residing in this dynamic community display an extraordinary talent for creating visually aesthetic works of an exceptionally high caliber. Selected artists from this collective bring their works to the QMA in the groundbreaking exhibition, In the Flow: Artists from the Living Museum.

The Living Museum is a pioneering institution, having established the first collection of art of people with mental illness in the United States. Co-founded in 1983 by the late artist Bolek Greczynski, and the psychologist and artist, Dr. Janos Marton, the museum provides a space where individuals beset with mental illness can be accepted as artists and work among colleagues. The outcome of their collaboration is a stress free environment in which patients can redefine negative self-images, and establish their existence as artists who happen to have a psychiatric diagnosis. Surrounded by a sense of camaraderie and encouragement, the members of this community are free to create, without the pressures and judgmental observations of the outside world.

In a world where conformity to social norms is expected, and eccentric behavior ridiculed, the Living Museum provides a refuge for the idiosyncratic, yet inspired thoughts people with mental illness. According to Marton: “Mental illness and art are a natural combination. People who have a mental illness are extremely blessed with artistic creativity.” The patients’ release their frustrations by using their art to channel emotions, communicate thoughts, and confront problems.

The agitated hyper reality associated with many types of mental illness-a heightened awareness of surrounding stimuli and the individual’s own thought process-ironically feeds the creative process. When in touch with these emotions and sensations, the artist is considered “”in the flow”” of inspiration-a source that has fueled the genius of no less than Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock. This exhibition helps viewers to develop a better understanding of the artists living with mental illness.

The QMA is a most appropriate venue to house this unique exhibition. ArtAccess, the museum’s educational program for individuals with special needs, offers an array of workshops for children and adults with a variety of emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities. The QMA was one of the nation’s first cultural institutions to provide educational services to the developmentally and mentally disabled, and continues to serve as a model for other museums.

In the Flow has been generously supported in part by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and IDB Bank (Israel Discount Bank of New York).