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MPS Art Therapy and Counseling In Schools Present "In My Truth, In My Power"
June 5, 2019 by Michelle Mackin
Banner with honeycomb design made of colorful hexagons
<p "="">A banner featuring colorful hexagons in a honeycomb shape.

This mural, titled Together, was created by CIS students and selected as a winner for the Flatbush Avenue BID’s Distinction: Street Banner Art Competition. The banner will be hung on Flatbush Avenue until 2020, and will also be on view in "In My Truth, In My Power."

Through the end of June, visitors are encouraged to view and interact with the artwork on display in the MPS Art Therapy gallery space for "In My Truth, In My Power," an exhibition presenting work by young students who are supported by art therapists working throughout New York City through Counseling In Schools (CIS).

CIS is an organization that places mental-health professionals, social workers and art, drama, dance and music therapists in elementary, junior high and high schools in the city. The vision of CIS is to work toward a bright, resilient future that awakens possibilities for the children, families and staff at these schools. MPS Art Therapy students often intern at CIS during their time in the program, and many work there following graduation.

"We are often partnered with Title 1 schools or within historically underserved populations," says MPS Art Therapy alumnus Amanda Smith, now a CIS art therapist, who curated "In My Truth, In My Power." According to Smith, the student work on view in the exhibition represents "student-clients who have experienced trauma(s) and have had to overcome many obstacles in their [life] and their families' lives." The intention is to allow the visitors to respond to the artwork in real time in an art-making exchange that is typical of the exhibitions that take place in the MPS Art Therapy gallery space (like this one). "I feel that this furthers the dialogue and the therapeutic aims of creating such a space to celebrate the students in this way," she says.

Click here to read about MPS Art Therapy's collaboration with Artistic Noise in 2018.

<p "="">Painting of pink trees

Art by a CIS student from The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, on view at "In My Truth, In My Power."

The theme for this show—Smith's third time exhibiting and curating client art—came from her observations of how young people have been discovering themselves during this current "cultural moment in which truths are being unpacked on a societal scale," she says. "One of the antidotes to the anxiety this can evoke is owning one's narrative within it. When one steps into their truth, they are also able to step into their power. ... This exhibition would not only offer the students a venue to express who they are and how they are navigating the complex nature of their truths, but will demonstrate the diverse ways in which expressive clinical work is currently being fostered in school communities supported by CIS clinicians and programs."

Mythical cartoon characters
Art by a CIS student from The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, on view at "In My Truth, In My Power."

The exhibition is just one part of a monthlong initiative titled "The Future of Healing in Schools" and centered around raising awareness of the work that CIS is currently doing with over 7,000 students in 70 New York City schools. The month kicks off with the opening reception for "In My Truth, In My Power" on Thursday, June 6, 6:00pm. "The Future of Healing in Schools" will also feature workshops and a roundtable discussion centered around the healing elements that emerge from various forms of engagement, including social work, art, drama, music and movement therapy. "Schools can join efforts to heal, as well as lead efforts to build hope," says David Kener, director of development at CIS. "Our [roundtable] panelists are all people who have or are participating in healing processes taking place in schools and who are important participants in the dialogue to explore this idea further."

Click here to learn more about the roundtable, taking place on Tuesday, June 27, 6:00pm, at 133/141 West 21st Street, Room 101C.