From “a Nothing” to Something Special: Art as a Space of Holding Attunement in the Creative Experience of Holocaust Survivor Artists

Shira Diamond, Amit Shrira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A growing body of recent research into a link between adversity and creativity concentrates on emotional or cognitive constructs. To gain clearer insights into the underlying mechanisms through which the interplay between experiences of creativity and adversity are likely to unfold, an inquiry into the understudied view of creativity as lived experience is introduced in this study. This approach was implemented through in-depth exploration of the creative experience of 30 artists who suffered terrible trauma during the Holocaust. Following the phenomenological paradigm of qualitative research, semistructured interviews were conducted. Data was analyzed in order to understand the essence of the creative lived experience and to identify multiple meanings. Results included three main themes: The first—art as a holding space where subjective inner states are seen and valued, the second—art as a safe space where traumatic memories may be exposed, and the third—art as a holding space enabling creative exploration and enjoyment. These themes point to the creative experience as a procession of transformations within the safety of a holding attuned space. In this space, a move may occur toward “feeling felt” rather than objectified, validated rather than dehumanized, and whole rather than detached and silenced. The current study discerns that art viewed from the perspective of lived experience contributes a finer understanding of its potential as a phenomenon of creative self-transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-331
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number2
Early online date13 Aug 2020
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. American Psychological Association


  • Attunement
  • Creative experience
  • Holocaust survivor artists
  • Trauma


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