About the Institute for Art and Healing

How do people heal? It is a process that touches the mystery of all—much more than health care, education or medication alone can provide.

For 25,000 years, healing has been intertwined with the arts—music, drumming, dancing, cave art, dreaming. Art and healing is rooted in the bedrock of human experience, and in community. Our belief is that healing comes by being supported to find our own innate connection to that mystery, an inherently creative process of transformation passed down through the ages.

The Institute for Art and Healing was created to build, strengthen, and sustain the intersecting fields of art and healing. We are committed to promoting access to healing resources, to the sharing of knowledge and experience, and to presenting art as a source of transformation that can touch into our birthright lineage of innate healing.

Our Vision

With the support of an 18-month planning grant from The Lia Fund, Commonweal has worked extensively on exploring the contribution we can make to the field of art and healing. These are our intentions:

  • To explore the ancient and contemporary field of art and healing.
  • To identify what we regard as the best resources in the field of art and healing.
  • To weave together our existing work in art and healing through the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness, the Commonweal Garden/Regenerative Design Institute, the New School at Commonweal, our sister organization in Washington, D.C. (the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts), and the Institute for Art and Healing.
  • To seek authentic opportunities to contribute to the field of art and healing in ways that enrich the lives of all who are drawn to this work.

The Institute for Art and Healing is directed by Michael Lerner and coordinated by Kyra Epstein.

Commonweal Gallery

Since 1997, the Commonweal Gallery has been showing between two and six exhibitions a year, focused both on the ability of art to heal our bodies, minds, and souls, as well as the expression of the healing journey through art. The gallery is a 1,500-square-foot space located in the Commonweal Administrative Building in Bolinas. The gallery is also used for large public events, holding up to 250 people.

The gallery is open during shows from Monday to Friday from 11am – 4 pm, and by appointment. Please contact IAH@Commonweal.org for more information.


Commonweal is a nonprofit center in Bolinas, California. Founded in 1976, Commonweal’s core mission is healing: healing ourselves, healing communities, and healing the earth. We pursue this work in healing in four broad areas:  health, education, environment and justice. In health, we offer the Cancer Help Program for people with cancer, the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness for health professionals, the Healing Kitchens Institute and the Institute for Art and Healing. In education, we explore collaborative learning through the New School and teach permaculture gardening and design through the Commonweal Garden/Regenerative Design Institute. In environmental work, we serve through the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, the Biomonitoring Resource Center, and the Ocean Program. Our work in justice is done through the Juvenile Justice Program and the Integrative Law Institute. The Commonweal Retreat Center houses our residential programs and is available to like-minded people and organizations as available.

No one lives in this room without confronting the whiteness of the wall behind the poems, planks of books, photographs of dead heroines. Without contemplating last and late the true nature of poetry. The drive to connect. The dream of a common language.

—Adrienne Rich Origins and History of Consciousness, The Dream of a Common Language (1978)