DANSVILLE — The art of healing can move mountains in making a patient feel understood.


Noyes Mental Health and Wellness held an art show on May 17 to show the work of the patients and therapists who put their heart and soul into this place.


Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Art Therapist Diane Stratton-Smith spearheaded the art show and even had some of her stuff on display.


“We have this brand new lovely building, and we wanted to have this open house and art show to show it off,” she said. “The artwork is not just from kids, but a lot is from adults. It helps process grief, relieve stress, and is a safe way to process emotions.”


There are some patients who come exclusively for art therapy. It is mostly effective with children and adolescents who have a hard time expressing how they feel in words.


“This is a nonverbal form of communication,” Stratton-Smith said. “You can get a lot out of the images.”


The art show has been a very important part of the growth in therapy, and gives the patient's confidence in displaying their work.


Stratten Smith calls the new building a place that really shows the dignity that the patients deserve.


Joyce Gould told Genesee Country Express how much her work has helped her get through cancer.


“Ever since I have come to Diane I have grown a lot,” she said. “I understand why things have happened to me in the past. I grow stronger by listening and growing every day in therapy.”


Stratton-Smith calls the art therapy a special bond between the therapist and the patient.


“They have to be motivated to work through any challenge,” she said. “It really becomes a partnership between the therapist and patient.”



Gould is one of Stratton-Smith’s first patients since working at Noyes Mental Health six years ago. Gould’s cancer treatment is hard to express to the doctors, so she likes to express it through art.


Stratton-Smith said Gould took her two cancer treatment screens used during radiation treatment and used them as an art form to express how she feels. One of the screens is a cancer monster and the other screen is a cancer angel.


There are several interesting ways to use art to help with healing. At Noyes Mental Health and Wellness there are soul collages, tribute boxes, peace blankets, sculptures, paintings, drawings, jewelry, and much more.


“The tribute boxes process grief. In the Mexican culture they make altars to honor them,” Stratton-Smith said. “These shadow boxes honor loved ones and help process that loss. They can taken them home, and add to them if they want.”


The soul collages are a special thing the group does every Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m.


“They gather images that speak to them, and have these journal cards that ask questions,” Stratton-Smith said. “They build the images on the point-of-view of the cards. They can honor influences from parents, kids, authors, or musicians. They can also focus on the hero, angel, or witness. People are surprised what they discover when they dig deep.”   


Gould said she discovered a lot about herself when she made her soul collage.


“The soul collage represents safety to me,” she said. “I want people to learn from my art. Cancer is devastating. I am making my sculptures talk to one another in my voice. It took me about five sessions to make them.”


Gould added it feels good to have people see her art.


“I will continue to do this,” she said. “Quitting is not in my vocabulary.”


Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Manager Lynette Greene said that the work will be on display for a little while, but there are no long-term plans yet. She reminds the community that this is a private place, and due to patients being there all day it is not really an art display open to the public.


“Sometimes it’s hard to explain in words how you’re feeling,” said Greene. “Our two art therapists help their clients express themselves in a different way, and we’re delighted to be able to show off the amazing work they’ve done.”


Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Art Therapist Sarah Perry has been immensely helpful as well, and her work was on display along with her patients.