Cancer Patient Art Therapy Classes & Workshops To Aid In Recovery

Cancer Patient Art Therapy Classes & Workshops To Aid In Recovery

MSK art therapist Deborah Rice works with a patient.

MSK art therapist Deborah Rice works with a patient.

For many people, creating art can be a therapeutic experience during times of health-related fear and anxiety. The creative process can often reduce stress and loneliness, while providing an outlet for you to express yourself.

Art Therapy

Art therapy — the integration of artistic expression into the healing process — can be emotionally restorative and can serve as an outlet for expressing your feelings about illness, treatment, and life itself.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we invite all current and former patients to participate in an art therapy program that includes drawing, painting, and other media. In this program, you can work with our trained therapist in a safe, private, and relaxing environment to find ways to express your experiences through art. No prior art experience is required.

Regardless of your stage of treatment or recovery at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you are welcome at the art therapy Open Studio, along with your family members, friends, and caregivers.

Benefits of Art Therapy

Art can be an important part of the healing process.

Art can be an important part of the healing process.

The process of seeing and exploring the images you create through art therapy can distract you from health issues as well as help you:

  • become more self-aware
  • express fears, anxieties, and other emotions that may be difficult to verbalize
  • communicate and interact more effectively with others
  • build self-esteem
  • lessen stress
  • improve quality of life
  • find comfort, freedom, and hope

In our program, you have the chance to express yourself, treat yourself to a relaxing and restorative activity, and even connect with others going through cancer treatment and recovery.

Cultivating Your Creativity

Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, you can choose from a variety of hands-on materials, techniques, and tools to get your ideas flowing, including:

  • watercolors (paints, pens, pencils, and crayons)
  • pastels
  • collage materials and colored paper (origami and tissue)
  • acrylic paints
  • drawing instruments (charcoal and graphite pencils, pens, and ink)
  • modeling clay
  • scratchboard

We emphasize the creative journey — not the end product — by encouraging you to think about your artwork in the same way you would reflect on a dream: talk about it, showcase it, develop it further, or simply let it go.

Art Therapy Opportunities

The following programs are located at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center (300 East 66th Street) in the Cynthia Lufkin Fitness and Seminar Room on the second floor.

Art Therapy Open Studio

Every Tuesday, -

Open studio gives you the opportunity to participate in art therapy at a time that’s convenient for you. We offer Open Studio every Tuesday for people who are currently receiving or who have completed active treatment for cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also welcome to take part. You can develop your own creation or follow step-by-step instructions for a structured art project.

Portfolio Gallery and Revolving Exhibits

We also offer our participants the opportunity to showcase the work they create in the Open Studio to the public. You can submit two-dimensional pieces (up to 14 inches by 18 inches) to be exhibited on the walls of the second floor of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center. Works of art are also selected for exhibition in the art therapy studio on a rotating basis.

Learn More

For more information about our art therapy program, please contact art therapist Deborah Rice at 646-888-5397 or email [email protected].

Art Workshops

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, our Art Expressions workshops provide instruction in knitting, watercolor, acrylic painting, and paper collage. Led by professional artists who donate their time and are assisted by volunteers, the workshops are available to current and former patients, their families, and caregivers. 

Register for a Workshop

Art Expressions workshops are held in the spring and the fall and meet once a week for four to six weeks. All classes are held in the lounge on the 11th floor of the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion at 53rd Street. We welcome approximately 12 participants per class, and prior art experience is not required.

Our workshops are free but require advance registration. Email [email protected] to sign up.

Look for the ArtKart

In addition to regularly scheduled workshops, Art Expressions volunteers are present at rolling ArtKarts at two of our outpatient locations. There is a bright yellow rolling ArtKart in the waiting room of the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion most mornings and a purple rolling ArtKart in the waiting room of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center most Mondays and Thursdays, starting in the morning through the afternoon. Patients and caregivers can select from a variety of art projects to work on while waiting for a physician or treatment appointment.

Contact Us

For more information or to register for an Art Expressions workshop, please contact the Department of Volunteer Resources at 212-639-5980 or [email protected].