Marie Revai (1911-1997) and the Allan Memorial Institute


Allan Memorial Institute
1025 Avenue des Pins Montréal, QC H3A 1A1

In Montreal, Quebec, art therapy visionary, Marie Revai worked independently, experimenting with ways to engage psychiatric patients in art-making. Revai was an artist with a teaching diploma from Budapest. Following training at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with Arthur Lismer, a progressive art educator and a Group of Seven artist, Revai worked extensively in surrounding community centers, introducing art to children and adults. This experience helped formulate her ideas about how art could provide a particular “solace, and a new perception of the world” (Lamy, 2006, p. 67). In 1957, she was hired by a psychiatrist to work as an arts specialist in the occupational therapy department at the Allan Memorial Institute. It was reported that she was thrilled with the large, windowed studio space, which overlooked a grove of trees, because the inner world as well as the outer natural world was both important to Revai’s methodology. She stated, “I tried to make the art room as inspiring as possible. Plants, aquarium, turtles, budgie birds and drift woods of interesting shapes were decorating the room” (In Lamy, 2006, p. 66). It was reported that when the 15 to 20 patients moved around the space, spontaneous things happened to help foster their healing (Schwartz, 1994). Revai’s noninterventionist “studio” approach was her preferred mode of working but she also developed “very structured” closed groups, which addressed different ways of being, including: “the Opinion group, the Perceptual group, the Training group and the Projective Art group” (Lamy, 2006, p. 66). Marie Revai organized art exhibits at the hospital to educate and demonstrate the links between modern art and the art created by her patients at the hospital, which later lead to the establishment of the art therapy program at Concordia University.

(Paraphrased from: Timm-Bottos, J. (2015). Art Therapy in Canada: A Place-based métissage. D. Gussak and M. Rosal (Eds.). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Art Therapy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell Pub. DOI: 10.1002/9781118306543.ch67)

For more information: Lamy, Y. (2006). Marie Revai: Pioneer of art-therapy in Quebec. Montreal: Self published.

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