Eating Disorder Patients Unveil Emotions Through Art

Oct. 1, 2013
New Exhibit Features Works Created as Part of a Unique Healing Process

 The first piece visitors see when entering For the Brides of Ed, a new exhibit at the Edward G. Miner Library, is a large canvas doll with holes ripped in her chest and stomach.  Her face is painted blue.

“The tears over the heart and belly, centers of pain for me, show the overlap between depression and eating disorders.  The blue face represents depression and suffocation,” reads a description written by Lilly, the artist.

Lilly and the other patients whose works are featured in the exhibit are women with eating disorders who have participated in a unique, integrated therapy.  The therapy was developed by a Pittsburgh-based art psychotherapist. Lauren Lazar Stern, MA-ATR-BC, LPC, in conjunction with a digital artist from New York City, Nancy Gershman.  Patients begin with expressive arts exercises like the creation of the doll.  That is combined with a psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress victims called Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).  Next, each woman works with Gershman to build a “prescriptive photomontage,” a type of visualization that reframes the past or envisions a brighter future using a handful of pictures and Photoshop.

“The sensory imagery, symbols, metaphors and narrative elements trigger the brain to retrieve a memory, re-encode it and thus transform it,” says Gershman, whose work has appeared at the MSB Gallery at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Loyola University Museum of Art.

The Brides of Ed is on display at Miner Library, located within the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, through October 31.  Gershman will lead visitors through the exhibit on Wednesday, October 16 from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m., and on Thursday, October 17 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.  To arrange a private walk-through contact Gershman at (773)255-4677.  The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender Studies and University Interdisciplinary Cluster on Health and Human Values.