Art Hives HQ

The Art Hives Headquarters, based at Concordia University in Tiohti:áke (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) holds at its heart the vision of inclusive creative third-spaces in every neighbourhood across the globe. This approach is the result of three decades of research and experimentation by researcher Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos, art therapist,  and associate professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University. 

This living lab acts as a dynamic epicenter where consulting, education, research, co-development and social innovation activities bolster the growth and sustainability of Art Hives worldwide, and the pollination of Public Practice Art Therapy, a term coined by Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos.

The Art Hives HQ is funded by Concordia University and previously has been funded by the Rossy Foundation, the J.A. De Sève Foundation, and the McConnell Foundation.

Where to find us

The Art Hives HQ
Concordia University

2155 Guy, ER-101
Montreal, QC
Canada H3G 2W1

What we do

The Art Hive HQ offers training and consulting (mostly free and sometimes at a social rate) in groups and individually, in order to spread its open-source model of community art studios that are free, non-directed, and open to all.

This website is a directory of the various projects that are part of the Art Hives Network around the world, with the aim to contribute to their visibility and accessibility to the public, and to facilitate making contact and initiating collaboration between Art Hive practitioners.

Contact us to book a session, in person or via videoconference

Art Hives Community of Practice

The community of practice is an opportunity for Art Hives practitioners everywhere to come together and exchange feedback with their peers about their experiences, questions, concerns and dreams. These meetings are held every two weeks, on Fridays 10am-12pm ET (Montreal), online on the Zoom Platform.

Find out about upcoming meet-ups

The Art Hives Institute

The Art Hives Institute is a 4-day experiential intensive teaching the theory, methods and materials to create inclusive public home places which bring multiple opportunities for community building and healing through art making, dialogue and skillsharing into neighbourhoods.

The course is offered by Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos, Creative Arts Therapies professor at Concordia University and Rachel Chainey, Art Hives Network Coordinator, art therapist and social entrepreneur, in collaboration with diverse Art Hives practitioners. It is designed for professionals already working in an Art Hive setting or serious about getting started with that type of third space. While covering the theoretical underpinnings and practical aspects, it will also provide plenty of time for group discussion, skill-sharing, site visits and hands-on community art studio sessions.

No prerequisite courses are needed. Previous experience in a community art studio is preferable.

After these 4 days, participants take away:

  • A new network of passionate colleagues and the many skills, ideas, tools and art making we will have shared together.
  • An overview of different art hives models (legal structures, organizational models) and ways to get them off the ground and sustain them.
  • A deepened understanding of the values and philosophical and historical inspirations of Art Hives and of the impact of these arts-based third spaces on individuals and communities.

Want us to come teach the Art Hives method in your community? Contact us!

The "Community Art Studio: Methods and Materials" credit course at Concordia University

CATS 631 / ARTE 398

Instructor: Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos
 Department: Creative Arts Therapies Please contact the department for registration

This experiential course is taught by associate professor, Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos (Creative Arts Therapies) in a welcoming community setting, La Ruche d'Art St-Henri, an arts-based third space fostering social inclusion and community building.The course, offered annually since 2011, attracts students across the university, including creative arts therapies, art education, studio arts, theater, music, philosophy, urban planning and anthropology.The course is cross-listed in order to welcome both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as community members who join the cohort as independent scholars.

Hands-on learning and art making are integral to every aspect of this course. In addition to connecting with community members within the studio in the post-industrial neighbourhood, students are also required to complete 15 hours of service learning within other grassroots or institutional settings that are part of the Art Hives Network.These urban art hives which share the strength-based, free and open access inherent to all Art Hives, they are also quite diverse: from social housing, to city parks, co-ops, seniors' residences, libraries, community missions, womens’ centres, schools and museums. In every setting, students practice the non-interventionist methods at the core of the Art Hives model of public practice art therapy: witnessing, arts-based humble inquiry, informal and horizontal skill sharing through ''Each-One-Teach-One'', as well as building studio relationships within each ''public
homeplace'' (Belenky, 1996), as they learn about the ''ethics of discomfort'' (Foucault in Rabinow, 1994).

Firmly rooted in the Psychologies of Liberation (Watkins & Shulman, 2008), public practice art therapy as developed at Concordia University invites all students to begin to examine their own social location as it relates to privilege, power, and the oppressive forces of colonialism and gentrification at play in their communities.Throughout the course, students undertake important steps of a journey, deepening their understanding of these concepts and their personal relationship to them, through art making and the reflective practice of field notes.The course culminates with a public presentation of the students' final projects, attended by community members, academic partners, and funders.

The 2017 cohort was invited to reflect on the implications of colonialism by participating in the Art Hive's Community Listening Circles based on the book ''Unsettling the Settler Within'' (Regan, 2010) as well as in the Blanket Exercise ( class then created artwork on the theme ''Reconcile'' and shared their personal stories around reconciliation during a public presentation as well as in the format of blog articles shared on the Art Hives website.

Art Hives Internship Awards For Creative Art Therapies Students

The Art Hives Internship Awards are graciously funded by the J.A. De Sève Foundation. Creative Arts Therapies students at Concordia University are invited to propose an internship and/or research project idea that responds to the needs and interests of an Art Hive, located in a neighbourhood or institution anywhere in Quebec.These learning opportunities will allow students to develop hands-on skills relevant to their career path and apply their academic learning through public practice arts engagement, while building connections and making a measurable impact at the grassroots level. On-site supervision is provided by a Registered Art Therapist for Art Hives Internships, as needed.


  • Janis Timm-Bottos

    Janis Timm-Bottos is passionate about co-creating small, accessible spaces for free community art making in order to increase understanding of ourselves, strengthen our relationships across divides, and build meaningful community life. A former pediatric physical therapist, Janis is an art therapist and associate professor with the Department of Creative Arts Therapies in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University.

    Over the past twenty years she has collaboratively initiated and run six community art studios (aka art hives): ArtStreet with Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless; OFFCenter Community Arts Project, a free standing non profit; Kitchen Table Arts, located in a thrift store in Nelson, British Columbia; Montreal’s La Ruche d’Art: Community Studio and Science Shop; and Studio d’Art St Sulpice located in a large social housing neighborhood. Janis is the Director of the Art Hives Initiative and Network. 

  • Rachel Chainey

    Rachel Chainey MA, ATPQ is a mother, art therapist, social entrepreneur, educator, and multi-tasking artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, QC. She obtained her MA in Creative Art Therapies from Concordia University (2018), prior to which she has collected an eclectic undergraduate and experiential background in the intersecting fields of Cultural Animation, Social Entrepreneurship, Studio Arts, Psychology, Graphic Design and Communications. This ever-expanding creative toolbox is put to use through her Public Practice Art Therapy work as the Art Hives HQ and Network Coordinator (since 2014). Rachel serves as the Vice- President of the Quebec Art Therapists’ Association (since 2020), was the Conference Chair for the Canadian Art Therapy Association in 2018, and is a part-time faculty member at the Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Art Therapies Institute (since 2022). She is passionate about people’s stories and creativity, and specifically interested in developing ways in which we can live and work with more mutual care, creating sustainable futures for all living beings.

  • Carmen Oprea

    Carmen is an art therapist holding a master's in Art Therapy and a master's in Fine Arts, followed by post-graduate training in sandplay therapy. 

    She is an art facilitator and supervisor with Concordia Art Hives and she is implicated in promoting accessible art and sandplay therapy in the communities. 

    Her professional trajectory also includes offering art therapy to seniors from various day centres and residences, to First Nations and Inuit children and teenagers, and a clientele of various ages and diverse problems in her private practice. 

    She facilitates self-esteem and self-identity groups in the governmental sector and in communities. She uses art and sandplay therapy as alternative ways to communicate and promote well-being and insight when words cannot describe the depth of one’s experience. 

  • Melissa Sokoloff

    Melissa is a registered art therapist with the Canadian Art Therapy Association and a supervisor for the Art Hive Network. She facilitates Art Therapy Public Practice round tables at Concordia Art Hives, where people are invited to use their creativity to express their challenges and successes in the studio space.

    She also facilitates the Network's Community of Practice to help facilitators develop, promote, and sustain their community-based arts practices.  

    With a PhD in Applied Human Sciences, a master’s degree in Art Therapy and a bachelor's degree in Health Sciences, she has developed a holistic vision that integrates the historical and psychosocial determinants of health through accessible, equitable and inclusive creative workshops.

    For the past 15 years, she has worked as an art therapist with adults with mental health problems and has collaborated with Inuit and First Nations in urban and community settings. Through her private practice, she has witnessed how art can express the depth of experience and foster creative solutions for people of different ages, genders, cultures and for various issues.

Current Research

Our research is our sustained practice, and includes reconsidering traditional research to include community defined evidence. We have been mapping out "an intermediate space we can't quite define yet. A borderland between passion and intellect, analysis and subjectivity, ethnography and autobiography, art and life" (Behar 1996 in Watkins and Shulman p31.). On-going research endeavours include the development of institutional Art Hives with seniors, veterans and their families, as well as the development of a living lab infrastructure to collect community-generated evidence.


''RECONCILIATION'' - What does it mean to you?

A traveling exhibition, 2017

The Art Hives Network invites everyone to join in a humble, creative inquiry about the settler’s role in the Truth and Reconciliation work being done in support of establishing and restoring Indigenous people’s rights across Canada.This exploration doesn’t require answers and opinions, but time for neighbourhoods to come together for critical personal and collective reflection and art making about a topic that may be uncomfortable, uncertain, and unclear.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada ( met between 2008 and 2015, with the aim to unveil the truth about the extent of the abuse inflicted on Indigenous people through the residential school system, which existed in Canada from the early 1800’s to 1996.The Commission’s main goal is for the experiences of the Indigenous people to be heard by all Canadians.This action became the first step towards Truth and Reconciliation.

The Art Hives Network joins Reconciliation Canada (2017) in believing that ''each person has an important role to play in reconciliation. Reconciliation begins with oneself and then extends into our families, relationships, workplaces and eventually into our communities.’’

Inspired by the TRC’s Calls to Action, our hope is that through uncovering and examining how our individual and family stories intersect with colonization and engaging in spontaneous art making and dialogue with one another, we can begin to unpack the colonial wounds inflicted on indigenous people.This « unsettling the settler » work (Regan, 2010) will help us understand how practices we participate in today might still be causing harm to the first peoples across Turtle Island.When we practice listening to each other there is hope that together with indigenous neighbors we can dismantle institutions that cling, perhaps unknowingly to worn out colonial methods. If small groups of people are committed to a concilitatory process, we may begin to imagine a shared future without oppression and poverty, and in which all could experience the security of having access to clean water, land, and air. Restoule (2015), member of the Dokis First Nation (Anishnaabe) and professor of Indigenous Studies, states that ’’Reconciliation is a process of relationship building. Like the treaties, it has to be co-created, reflected upon and acted upon continually to remain relevant and alive.The potential exists for a new era of mutual respect but we each need to reflect upon our relationships and responsibilities towards each other.’’

External Link

Art Hives from Coast-to-Coast: Weaving a Collective Narrative

Chainey, 2018

The purpose of this research project is to document and disseminate the different narratives of leaders of Art Hives projects that are part of the Art Hives Network, across Canada. Research participants have submitted short videos in which they share their story of starting an Art Hive.A thematic analysis of the narrative videos collected has been realized by the researcher, in order to gain deeper insight into what these diverse projects have in common and what makes them stand out as unique.The overarching goals pursued by this study are to increase understanding and awareness that Art Hives have of each other, the visibility of Art Hives as a movement, and to democratize the understanding of this model of arts-based social inclusion for the general public, funders, and policy makers.

External Link

Facilitating an Art Hive: The Courage to Belong

Tallman, 2015

This research paper explores the psychological concept of belonging and why it is an essential human need.Art Hives, an emerging form of nonclinical art therapy delivery, is defined and explained, as is their central principle of inclusion.Through the methodology of autoethnography, the researcher examines her own experiences of belonging as a facilitator in a particular art hive, and explores how the needs of belonging, autonomy, competency and generosity can be met in this space.The complexities of belonging are examined, including three antecedents to belonging, and the belonging paradox.

The researcher supports her findings with motivational research and The Circle of Courage, which deem “belonging” to be an essential need along with autonomy, competence and generosity. Shame Resilience Theory is linked to how shame keeps people from feeling they belong.

The researcher discusses ways that building the courage to be vulnerable and authentic can help facilitators and participants overcome shame. Finally, the researcher concludes that in order to sustain a welcoming Art Hive, facilitators need to nurture their own autonomy, competence, generosity and inclusion in order to experience their own sense of belonging, as well as foster these experiences in Art Hive participants.

External Link

Learning in the Third Age: A Look into the Community Art Studio

Macoretta, 2017

This qualitative study investigated the perception of learning by third age participants at an unprogrammed community art studio (Timm-Bottos, 1995) in Montreal known as an ‘art hive’ (Timm- Bottos, 2012).Third agers are defined as participants between the ages of 55-75 (Laslett, 1989), and participation is defined as making art.A case study research design was used, and 11 participants in the third age at the art hive known as ‘La Ruche d’Art: St Henri’ were interviewed about their learning experiences.

Emergent themes suggested learning was heavily influenced by the structure and facilitation, as well as the social aspect of the art hive. Perceived learning included instrumental skills such as artistic skills, techniques, and social skills. Embodied and transformative learning experiences included learning how to freely express oneself, learning essential meanings and life lessons, learning new or broadened perspectives, and learning the healing power of art making.

Learning was perceived to occur simultaneously by observing others and through self-initiated and directed processes. Many of the reported learning experiences were perceived as transformational, and led to experiences of personal growth, empowerment and profound fulfillment.

This study points to many implications for the art hives and other community art studios to have a significant impact on the well-being of aging populations, as they offer opportunities for participants to express themselves creatively, build self-efficacy and autonomy, as well as feel welcomed to belong to an inclusive, loving community

External Link

Learning in third spaces: Community art studio as storefront university classroom

Timm-Bottos & Reilly, 2014

Third spaces are in-between places where teacher-student scripts intersect, creating the potential for authentic interaction and a shift in what counts as knowledge.This paper describes a unique community- university initiative: a third space storefront classroom for postsecondary students in professional education programs, which also functions as a community art studio for the surrounding neighborhood. This approach to professional education requires an innovative combination of theory, methods, and materials as enacted by the professionals involved and performed by the students.This storefront classroom utilizes collaborative and inclusive instructional practices that promote human and community development. It facilitates the use of innovative instructional strategies including art making and participatory dialogue to create a liminal learning space that reconfigures professional education. In researching the effectiveness of this storefront classroom, we share the voices of students who have participated in this third space as part of their coursework to underscore these principles and practices.

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Seeing the Potential: A Canadian Creative Reuse Centre Case-Study

Timm-Bottos, 2017

This thesis includes practical information on existing models of creative reuse centres across Canada, and identified key themes that reflect a centre’s success which may serve as an adaptable roadmap for communities interested in developing their own creative reuse centre.The key themes of Putting people first, building relationships and seeing the potential asks us to hear the needs of the community and offer places for people of all abilities, backgrounds and demographics to see abundance of materials that are already in thee world, be inspired to create with them and feel gratitude for the others who have kept them out of the waste stream for us.

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