University of Memphis' Institute for Arts and Health to Host Symposium on Connecting Mind and Body to Bring Healing Through the Arts

Can art be therapeutic for both the body and mind? Absolutely! In fact, it's been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, while promoting relaxation and self-expression. That's why the Institute for Arts and Health at the University of Memphis is organizing an exciting symposium on the theme of "Connecting Mind and Body to Bring Healing Through the Arts". This first-ever symposium will feature presentations and discussions by some of the leading local experts in the field of arts and health.

Some of the topics covered in the symposium sessions will include trauma healing, resilience, and the impact of art and design collaborations. We'll also explore how traumatic experiences affect the voice, and how expressive arts processes can be utilized in implementing after-school group interventions to address trauma among African refugees.

"The UofM's Institute for Arts and Health is excited to host this important symposium on the power of the arts to heal and recover from trauma," said Dr. Ryan Fisher, interim dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. "Our sessions will offer practical information, grounded in research and engaged scholarship, for how arts and design can be used to recover from traumatic experiences."

Sessions will be presented by distinguished individuals, including:

           Susan Elswick - UofM Professor in the Department of Social Work
      Ebony Barnes - Project Coordinator at the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development
      Christy Peterson - Associate Director at the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development 
      Virginia Reed Murphy - Founder and Director of PlayBack Memphis
      Miriam van Mersbergen - UfM Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
      Jazmin Miller - Executive Director at the Carpenter Art Garden
      Kelsey Harrison - UofM Assistant Professor in the Department of Art & Design
      and Jenna Thompson - UofM Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture

"We are excited to bring together such an esteemed group of experts in the field of arts and health," said Fisher. "Our hope is that the symposium will provide a platform for meaningful discussion and foster new collaborations that will advance the field of arts and health in the Mid-South."

The symposium will be Monday, May 1, 2023, from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the UofM Humphreys Theatre Building, Main Stage, located at 3745 Central Ave.

It's free and open to the public, with free parking available at the Innovation Dr. Garage on Fogelman Way. 

Light beverages and refreshments will also be served.

To RSVP and sign up for Continuing Education Units, go to https://tinyurl.com/UofMIAH

Symposium topics will include:

        > Trauma Healing Club: Utilizing Culturally Responsive Expressive Arts Processes in the Implementation of an After-School Group Intervention to Address Trauma Among African Refugees
        > From Adversity to Resilience: Catalyzing Growth, Healing, and Flourishing through Playback Theatre
        > Body, Mind, and Voice: How Trauma Experiences Affect the Voice
        > Impact of Art and Design Collaborations with Carpenter Art Garden


For more information about the symposium, please visit the Institute for Arts and Health website at https://www.memphis.edu/ccfa/research/institute.php.

About The Institute for the Arts & Health

The University of Memphis is pleased to announce the establishment of the Institute for Arts and Health. The Institute will bridge the arts, humanities, social sciences, digital technologies and STEM areas, and aims to incubate and secure funding for transdisciplinary research and community engagement related to the Arts and Health.

"The roots of the Institute stretch back to the spring of 2018," said Dr. Anne Hogan, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CCFA) and Acting Director of the new Institute, "when informal meetings were held in various campus venues in which faculty, staff, graduate students, health and wellbeing practitioners and educational partners shared best practices for research and outreach broadly related to the arts and health."

The Institute will support a trio of sub-committees, each focused on different aspects of arts and health. These sub-committees include Arts Initiatives for Health in the Community, chaired by Susan Elswick from the School of Social Work; Health, Wellbeing and the Built Environment, chaired by Jenna Thompson of the Department of Architecture; and Health Initiatives for Artists, chaired by Miriam van Mersbergen from the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. CCFA Dean's Fellow for Research Melissa Janoske McLean will be working closely with the sub-committee chairs and with Hogan to advance ongoing and upcoming research initiatives.

"I am thrilled that the efforts of UofM colleagues and community partners to drive innovation in this important area of research can further evolve under the auspices of the Institute for Arts and Health," said Hogan. "And, I am inspired by the work that has been done to date. Achieving institute status is so important for us to continue our mission to increase the impact and visibility of arts and health-related initiatives."

Areas of interest for the newly established Institute include research centered around expressive arts therapy, ways that an environment or space can be improved to affect overall health and wellbeing and strategies for instilling healthy habits in artists through appropriate and supportive physical and mental practices.