Art programme at the MacLaren empowers adults with exceptionalities from Camphill Communities Ontario and Empower Simcoe

July 10, 2019
Participants in the MacLaren Art Centre’s Art Explorers programme with artist instructor/art therapist Lisa Nackan
On June 18, participants in the MacLaren Art Centre’s Art Explorers programme gathered with friends and family members to celebrate their artistic successes from the spring course. The event showcased works of art created in a series of twelve workshops led by regional Art Therapist Lisa Nackan.

Art Explorers is a studio-based programme offered in the spring and fall for adults with exceptionalities from Camphill Communities Ontario and Empower Simcoe. In a respectful, trusting and fun environment, adult participants engage in a series of creative projects designed to foster creativity, problem-solving, risk-taking and self-confidence. The programme is offered free to participants, which is made possible with support from corporate donors.

Throughout the twelve weeks of the spring programme, Nackan led workshops exploring painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Participants could try their hand at a variety of materials, techniques and studio approaches, creating vibrant artworks that represent their creative response to mood, music and the world around them.

Participants of the programme were thrilled to share their work with loved ones at the June 18 exhibition reception.  Richard said, “I like making stories and pictures about my camp. I also like trying something new. Happy I get to show family and friends my art!” Ryan added, “I can’t wait to do the programme again! I also made new friends!”

Art Explorer Dymon (left) and Ryan (right)
A specialist in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy, Lisa Nackan works with clients experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, grief, loss, trauma, PTSD and abuse as well as those with ADHD, development disabilities, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Her approach is uniquely gentle and grounded in a strength-based, trauma-informed framework. She understands the significance of developing a strong, safe and supportive therapeutic relationship, which allows clients to gain insight, find relief from emotional distress and live their lives with intention and meaning.

Nackan creates a safe studio space where clients can choose materials for expressing and communicating fears, beliefs and emotions, which can be difficult to put into words. “For art therapy to be successful, no prior art experience or ‘artistic talent’ is needed. Creating art helps patients navigate the overwhelming emotions associated with memory loss and change – enhancing attention, awakening memory and providing an alternative means for communicating, validating and preserving identity.”

For more than a decade, Art Explorers has provided a vital community service for countless individuals living in Simcoe County and Muskoka. Providing not only a safe space for self-expression and social interaction, this programme at the MacLaren gives adults the opportunity to create something tangible, which can bring a sense of accomplishment, engagement and understanding.

The programme will resume this fall with a new series of weekly art projects.

For more information, please contact Tyler Durbano, Education Officer,