Corinne Lightweaver ’85 is the author of a new book, “THE PSYCHE’S GIFTS: Art, Art Making, and the Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness,” with Foreword by Shari Saperstein, Psy.D.
The role of art making in healing is increasingly capturing the medical profession’s imagination and the general public’s interest. What are the possibilities for using the art making process to heal the body and the mind and to communicate the inner experience?
More medical schools now offer programming in narrative medicine, as well as opportunities to hear directly from, and view the art of, artist patients. The profession of art therapy is also gaining more visibility, while lay people are also offering workshops in using creativity for better mental health.
In Corinne Lightweaver’s second book about the healing process of art, the artist documents her personal experience of living with mental illness using the medium of paper collage. Having lived with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder for more than a quarter century, she has learned coping mechanisms—including art—that keep mental illness at bay for most of the time.
Through her artwork, Lightweaver hopes to spark personal and public conversations about mental illness, reduce stigma, and encourage those who suffer to find treatment. The internal experience of mental illness is difficult to describe, but the collage-making process gives Lightweaver uncommon access to her unconscious, allowing her to reveal her journey and shed light on the experience. The 38 color illustrations in this book explore and depict one person’s experience, but the themes are deeply universal, even to those without mental illness.
“Mental wellness is not a destination but rather a strong yet fragile state of being,” said Lightweaver. “I hope my work illustrates the experience of others with mental illness so that they don’t feel so alone. I hope I can also bring my particular experience to the conversation of understanding and destigmatizing mental illness.”
Lightweaver is an artist and writer. Her artistic journey began in painting, with wildlife as her favorite subject, and also included forays into other media, such as ceramics. A diagnosis of breast cancer led her to discover collage and assemblage, an apt metaphor for piecing her life and body together again, leading to the body of work published in her first book, “In the Breast of Health: Healing from Cancer through Art.” She divides her time between Los Angeles and Vashon Island, Washington.
Read the full press release here.
Read a previous class note featuring Lightweaver here.