Two storytelling performances on Thursday, Feb. 23, will showcase the work of students in SUNY Oswego’s expressive arts therapy minor while showing storytelling’s power in helping the healing process.

These free student-led storytelling performances of "Storytelling as Therapy: Healing after Trauma" –- at 3 and 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 inside Tyler Art Gallery in Tyler Hall –- are open to the public, and explore moving forward in the aftermath of war and violence.

“Storytelling is as old as time and can be found everywhere – in entertainment, education and the promotion of social justice,” said theatre professor Jonel Langenfeld, who coordinates the expressive arts therapy minor. “However, it can also be used in therapy.”

In this context, storytelling comes in many shapes: spoken word, music, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, written word, digital, movement and dance (visual, auditory or tactile). It is a form of communication, a tool to help express and navigate traumatic events – to identify, share, cope and hopefully begin to heal.

The popularity and relevance of the expressive arts therapy minor continues to grow as more and more is discovered about how well people heal from traumatic events using the restorative power of the arts, Langenfeld noted.

The creation of a special topics course taught by Langenfeld, “Storytelling in Performance- Storytelling for Culture, Ethnicity and Social Justice,” provides an immersive, hands-on expressive arts therapy experience for students. 

War and healing

The important work being done in this minor led to a creative collaboration between the theatre department, Artswego and Tyler Art Gallery. 

The goal is to produce a storytelling performance to accompany and support the current Tyler Art Gallery exhibitionsFire For Effect” by Paul Pearce and various other artists presenting “How We Rebuild.” Both exhibitions focus on themes on recovery, rebuilding and healing after wartime.

Students from the special topics course will perform an immersive storytelling experience inside Tyler Art Gallery amidst the artwork, to better help express the works of art.

“With a focus on how we survive and evolve forward after a war and other traumatic events, the storytelling will include monologues written by war veterans and their families, personal stories from students, and visual art, music and dance,” Langenfeld said.

“Unfortunately, the tragedies of war can be anywhere and at any time, and whether it be in our own country as with the revolutionary and civil wars or 9-11, or further abroad like Afghanistan, Vietnam or the current war in Ukraine, we are all affected in some way,” Langenfeld noted. “But none so much as those who have given their lives to military service … and not always by choice.”

Throughout the years, many teachers and students from SUNY Oswego have served in the military. Artist Paul Pearce is one such individual. 

“Our performance is in honor of all SUNY Oswego alumni veterans, and for anyone who has endured the tragedies of war, who continues to serve and for those left behind to rebuild for a better future,” Langenfeld said. “No matter what the tragedy or trauma, telling the story can be the first step to healing.”

Tables representing various campus and local community support organizations will be present in the lobby of Tyler Hall, providing informational and support materials.

While no tickets are required, space is limited. Some subject matter may be triggering, and the suggested age for attendance is 13 years and up.

For more information, email