Today, after years of research and writing about how art transforms us, I finally pressed the send button on my book. It has taken flight along its final migratory path towards publication. Soon, it will be out in the world, as a fully – fledged endeavor.

I am excited about this book. It is necessary and timely, as it describes exactly how creativity transforms trauma. It shares real-life stories of how this is done with survivors of many different global traumas. With so much suffering in our world, and with confluences of dislocated and dispossessed people forming refugee camps, I felt it was time to offer an outline for how important creativity is, for the alleviation of suffering.
It is now well understood that the expressive arts can be helpful in all situations of loss, change, injury or grief. So when I first thought about creating this book, I did not want to simply reinvent the wheel, by writing another art therapy book that demonstrates this.

There are now several good books out there that do this. The question that drove my particular book was this: what if I could prove that the expressive arts, and creativity, are helpful even in the most dire of situations, for example in refugee camps, where people have survived not only loss of all they have known, and possessed, but also major trauma, caused by war, genocide, climate change, the HIV pandemic, racism, addiction, poverty, inner city gang warfare, tsunami, earthquake etc?

This kind of book could entirely change the way we view peoples’ resilience. It could change the way we view creativity. It could change the way non-profits and governments prioritize their AID. It could change the way refugee camps are funded. It could change the way education is offered to both children and adults, especially in situations of emergency or deprivation. It could change the way we offer therapy in our cities. It could change the way we make art in our schools and studios. Ultimately it could change the way we view the human brain – by understanding that brains can heal from trauma through creative acts – in any geographic location, or in any population, suffering any circumstance.

What happened after my initial inspiration was amazing. I decided to find some of the best art facilitators already working in the field, doing this work amongst courageous and resilient survivors. These expert art facilitators have a lot to share with us, as they work day in and day out on the front lines of major trauma. Contributors to the book share all they have learned over their many years of doing this work, and I am deeply privileged to be able to share these moving stories with you.

This book will be helpful to therapists working with trauma, educators wishing to understand creativity, funders wanting to know how to allocate their money, NGO’s wishing to understand public health, community developers wishing to integrate communities through creativity, and all artists wishing to deepen their studio work into a more transformative practice.

I am so grateful to my contributors who made this book possible. What better way to spend a life, than by helping others find their creativity, and facilitating the healing of trauma from the inside out. Thank you to Lily Yeh, Paul Hogan, Carol Hofmeyr and Max Frieder for your pioneering dedication to some of the most resilient people I know, who have survived some of the most difficult circumstances known to humanity. Together, we have co-created a deeper understanding of art activism amongst those who are marginalised, in extreme and inhumane ways. This is cutting edge work is a new addition to our understanding of healing trauma – through creativity.

Look out for this book on amazon, or in book stores, in March 2018, and support our work! Thanks too, to Nokwasi Mkane for this beautiful image that she produced during the art project in South Africa.