the story of
Living Art was created by a group of four women: Beth Ferris, Dorrit Karasek, Linda Swab and Youpa Stein. In 1993 Linda was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. Beth writes about that time and says, “Linda and I were building a deeper relationship through story and poetry that summer. We simultaneously began to talk about using our new knowledge to help others, as we had helped one another through writing poetry. We seemed to have the right friends for the job--Linda, drama therapist Youpa Stein, and art therapist Dorrit Karasek. How could we form a community where the ill and the bereaved discovered a more spacious way through their grief or illness using the expressive arts? We began to define the work of Living Art of Montana which was initially called Arts Alive.”
Living Art’s mission is to use the arts to support healing. In 1998 Living Art incorporated and became a 501c3 organization. Our programs are offered to people in Western Montana who have cancer, an acute or chronic disease, are suffering the consequences of treatment, have a significant loss in their lives, and caregivers. Because so many of our participants are carrying heavy financial burdens due to their illnesses, Living Art is committed to making our service programs free of charge.
Our workshops provide participants an opportunity for social connection in a safe, non-medical environment with others who have some understanding of what it’s like to deal with illness or loss. The creative process provides an opportunity for reflection; it can remind us who we are - separate - from what we're going through. It can bring us back to ourselves. Living Art honors the truth of a person’s experience and at the same time recognizes and encourages each person’s strengths, creativity and potential.
The benefit to participants is expressed by the following quote. “I had no place for my emotions roiling below the surface. The poems, metaphors and different creative explorations gave me a vehicle to let them out… The jump from confusion to resolve and vision in my work shows how the act of expressing my despair and pain, free me to take the next step to images of hope.” Workshop participant