Louise Nevelson: An Artist’s Life Informs Art Therapists

Friday, February 17, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm

133/141 West 21st Street, Room 101C

Presenter: Laurie Wilson, PhD, LP, ATR-BC, HLM

Free to the public.  CEC’s available for ATR-BCs

A biographical study of Louise Nevelson reveals her search for identity through art-making and belief in the importance of creativity in everyone’s life. Like many art therapy clients, Nevelson began to draw and discovered in the process her unique self, capacity for original thinking, and expression of significant emotions.

Laurie Wilson, PhD, LP, ATR-BC, HLM, is Professor Emerita and former Director of NYU’s Graduate Art Therapy Program. She is currently the Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The Institute for Psychoanalytic Education affiliated with NYU School of Medicine. She practices in New York City and has published widely in three fields: art therapy, art history, and psychoanalysis. Her books include Alberto Giacometti: Myth, Magic and the Man, and her most recent, Louise Nevelson. More info can be found here: lauriewilsonauthor.com.

Please RSVP

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WISHES TRANSFORMED: Reception Rescheduled for Friday, February 10

The opening reception for WISHES TRANSFORMED, originally scheduled for Thursday, February 9, from 6:30-8 pm, has been rescheduled for Friday, February 10, from 6:30-8 pm.  Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

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YOUR TURN: 2017 Spring Exhibition

School of Visual Arts and MPS Art Therapy present “Your Turn,” curated by faculty member Liz DelliCarpini, ATR-BC, LCAT. The exhibition is on view Saturday, February 18, through Saturday, March 18, at the SVA Flatiron Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, New York City.  Opening Reception will be held on Thursday, February 23, from 6:00-8:00 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Your Turn” is an exhibition organized around response art, a method of artmaking that enables art therapists to process the emotional, verbal and non-verbal content that surfaces in their professional practice. In this exhibition, graduate art therapy students and participants from their internship sites invite gallery-goers to respond to their response art. Ticket invitations and drawing materials are available throughout the gallery to activate visitor participation.

Art therapists strive to take in what people are saying as much as possible, particularly through art materials and imagery. Making art in response to these relational situations can increase the therapist’s empathy. Sharing the results in session can validate the experience and facilitate understanding in the therapeutic relationship.

In a civic revision, “Your Turn” expands response art to the gallery-going public. Contributing and reciprocating within the greater community fosters agency and awareness for everyone involved. Sharing art outside of the norms of the confidential therapeutic space can reduce social isolation and exclusion. Visitor participation acknowledges and validates the work on display.

As visitors are drawn to artwork in the gallery, they may use the drawing materials to visually express their reflections, feelings and reactions on tickets. Containers are positioned next to the artwork to receive these responses. Tickets enable gallery-goers to speak directly to artists, facilitating a way to enhance interactions between people in and beyond the gallery. “Your Turn” tickets connect diverse people through art.

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Revisiting Past Theses – Class of 2016

The thesis project is an integral aspect of the MPS Art Therapy program.  As we enter the spring 2017 semester, let’s take a moment to look back on the hard work of our alumni.  Here is a selection of thesis abstracts from the class of 2016:


Petra Artz

Case Study of an Adolescent with a Complex History of Loss and Trauma

This thesis explores the art therapy treatment of an adolescent young woman, Annie, with complex and cumulative trauma, within a state hospital setting. The work with Annie revealed a deeper understanding of a young girl, and how she was able to use art therapy and therapeutic relationship to explore her losses in the past, her future, and her identity. Themes surrounding her medical history, familial relationships, connectedness, and attachment were prominent throughout her artwork and through interactions.

Keywords: art therapy, adolescent inpatient, attachment, cardiac transplant, parental loss, trauma


Celeste Classon

Art Therapy with Adolescents: Using Ephemeral Natural Materials to Process Loss and Transition

This study looks at the utility of using ephemeral natural materials within art therapy as a way to metaphorically address transition and loss with adolescents living in a residential treatment center (RTC) who have a history of trauma and mental health diagnoses. Ephemeral natural materials are materials from nature such as leaves, sticks, and flowers that naturally decay or disintegrate over time. According to some literature, art therapy as a modality can be effective when working with adolescents who are forming their identity and transitioning out of childhood. In particular, using sensory art materials in art therapy can be helpful when processing trauma, which could be helpful for adolescents in RTCs who have experienced it. Contemporary artists who use sensory ephemeral materials note that these materials address the idea of impermanence and loss as it relates to the human experience. This qualitative comparative multiple and group case study found that the ephemeral natural materials were inappropriate for fragile populations such as the adolescents at the RTC. Upon further investigation, these materials were used with a normative adult population, where it was discovered that they stimulate conversation about loss and are both relaxing as well as upsetting.

Keywords: art, therapy, adolescents, impermanence, loss, transition


Carina Gomez

The Effects of Story Cloths as an Intervention to Regulate Affect in Addiction Treatment

Literature regarding the use of soft arts to promote mindfulness and affect regulation is limited in the field of art therapy. This paper presents a study conducted to measure the effectiveness of using story cloths to promote mindfulness and increase ability to regulate affect in an adult chemical dependency out-patient program (CDOP). The use of soft arts in addiction treatment can provide a safe, comforting outlet for expression that juxtaposes the often traumatic experiences clients portray in their artwork. Data was collected through anonymous self-report surveys and observation during sessions. The intervention used in this study was described by clients as relaxing, satisfying, engaging, and calming coupled with a reported increase in mood and positive feelings. Four case studies of clients were used to show how this narrative form allows clients to explore attachments to alcohol, caregivers, romantic interests, and the self.

Keywords: Art therapy, affect regulation, addiction, story cloths, soft arts, adult out-patient


June Ju Hyun Kang

Art Therapy with Older Adults using Technology

In the field of mental health and art therapy, there is a lack of outcome based research with an older adult population who suffers from declining physical and cognitive functioning as well as people with End­-of­-Life issues. A person’s ability to be independent is dependent on his or her overall health, mobility, and ability to complete the activities of daily living. Computer devices have been developed to support independent living and aging­ with­ choice. Dealing with end­-of­-life issues, hospice patients who have terminal illness need to maintain their quality of life by gaining empowerment. Through this qualitative study, art therapy intervention was facilitated using technology in terms of providing physiological accessibility in order to be able to gain a sense of control and achievement by art making. To view the effects of using technology with this population, the research made comparisons between the sessions which used traditional art materials (colored pencils) and those which used advanced technology (a tablet computer). By analyzing the participants’ artworks as well as observing their subjective and objective responses during the sessions that art therapy took place, the results of the four case vignettes demonstrated that when they incorporated a tablet to draw a picture, they appeared to have more engagement (time investment), intention and integration (composition and color coordination), playfulness and satisfaction (verbal reports). It was observed that technology allowed the participants to receive choices that are accessible. However, each case shows findings specific to particular clients and situations. The significance of individualization for each client’s need is raised.

Keywords: h​ospice care, quality ­of ­life, technology­ based, older adult art therapy


Arielle Rothenberg

Integration and Identity: Artwork as a Metaphor for Internal Self-States

The following study examines the metaphorical integration of internal self-states as represented by integration in artwork. This case study considers the process and progress of treatment with a high functioning, creatively-inclined thirty-four year-old woman who had a traumatic history of parental loss and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder. An image rating session of the client’s artwork was held, where the Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) was utilized to guide analysis of treatment. The composition and coding of session progress notes, in-session observation, therapist participation in the art-making process, and ongoing assessment of countertransference was also employed to advise the treatment relationship and process of identity formation. The impact of trauma and grief, relational style, and social attitudes towards those living with mental illness were also relevant in treatment.

Keywords: Identity, Integration, Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS), Schizoaffective disorder, Trauma, Art therapy


Sophie Yolowitz

Exploring the Attachment of a Mother and Son Through a Combination of Individual and Dyadic Art Therapy

This study explores the treatment of the attachment-related concerns of Lana (pseudonym) and Trevor (pseudonym), a 23-year-old mother and her 6-year-old son. When the family was referred for services, Trevor exhibited difficulty separating from his mother as well as challenging behavior at home, while Lana appeared isolated and overwhelmed. Individual sessions worked to honor the subjectivity of both sides of this relationship, the security of which was then addressed through dyadic art therapy that worked towards creating healthier, more playful, and positive interactions between the two. Examined through the lens of attachment, the outcomes of this study suggest that a combination of individual and dyadic work may comprehensively treat such a case in addressing both individual challenges as well as the mother-child relationship and the essence of attachment.

Keywords: Attachment, dyad, family art therapy, parent-child

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Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadows

LOUISE NEVELSON: An Artist’s Life Informs Art Therapists

On February 17th, Laurie Wilson will be discussing her recent biography, LOUISE NEVELSON: Light and Shadows, at the School of Visual Arts as part of the MPS Art Therapy Spring 2017 Community Lecture Series. Wilson is a biographer, art historian, and practicing psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education associated with NYU School of Medicine. In the biography, she examines the life of the widely celebrated sculptor Louise Nevelson and how therapeutic process of art making enabled Nevelson to cultivate her authentic self, exercise creative thinking, and express her emotional world. Wilson documented Nevelson’s story through hours of interviews, which took place at the peak of her fame as an artist.

Wilson did not always imagine connecting art history with psychoanalysis and art therapy. She began her schooling in art history at Wellesley College, which provided her initial exposure to studio art. This is when her attraction to creating art became evident and she went on to study sculpture and drawing. Through the pursuit of a career in art therapy and teaching, Wilson secured her belief in the importance of creativity and the power of art as a healing mechanism. She later explored psychoanalytic theory and practice as a desire to gain a deeper knowledge of the individuals she was working with, which consisted of both children and adults.


While teaching artists, art therapists, and other individuals about art and psychology, she began to piece together how art history; psychoanalysis and art therapy connected. She concluded that if there are multiple meanings and layers to the artwork and art making done by clients, then the same psychoanalytic foundations could be applied to fine artists. This one of the ideas that led her to embark on the biographical study of Louise Nevelson.

Image result for louise nevelson work

Born in 1899, Louise Nevelson was an American sculptor most recognized for her wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. Her artwork lived during the Abstract Expressionist movement. The subject matter she liked to draw upon were her emotional responses to the uprooted childhood and cultural changes she experienced at a young age. Wilson first communicated with Nevelson in the 1970’s after interviewing her for 15 hours as a source for her doctoral dissertation. She has continued her research ever since. Nevelson died in 1988.

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Meet the 2016-2017 Counseling Team

Life in a college setting, while most times fun and exciting, can also be fraught with stress and anxiety.  Managing coursework, deadlines, internships, and social lives can be taxing.  For the past ten years, MPS Art Therapy students have offered support to their fellow students by way of The Counseling Team.  Supervised by faculty member Val Sereno, art therapy students meet one-on-one with SVA students to provide free counseling services.  At an art college, it’s the perfect fit; students utilize their creative skills as part of a therapeutic exercise.  And it presents an opportunity for art therapy students to put their clinical knowledge into practice.

“The students are able to expand on their coursework and internship experience in a more intimate setting,” Val says.  “They function autonomously.  We meet as a group once a week to check-in, but they have the ability to structure their own sessions to meet the needs of their clients.”

The team is comprised of six second-year students.  In order to be accepted into the group they must be in good academic standing and go through an interview process.  They are then paired with an SVA student and set-up weekly meetings.

It’s no small feat to take on this commitment in addition to their internships and classwork.  But the art therapy students benefit greatly from the reciprocity of the setting; they are able to learn from the SVA clients in addition to offering them therapeutic guidance.

The group was established by Val ten years ago in an effort to add another opportunity for the SVA students to do what they love while also managing stress and processing anxiety.  And good news for any SVA students reading this, the Counseling Team will be available next semester for any students who feel as though they need a therapeutic outlet that harnesses their creative abilities.  Contact Val Sereno for more information: [email protected]


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Currently Accepting Applications for Fall 2017

Every year MPS Art Therapy graduates compassionate, empathetic, dedicated students.

MPS Art Therapy is an immersive two-year, 60 credit program that prepares students to become licensed, credentialed art therapists.  The program is interdisciplinary in approach, integrating the experiential components of art therapy within a comprehensive framework of academic theory, clinical application via internship program, and art practice.  Students learn to adapt the creative process to the specific therapeutic needs of the individual, population, and setting.  SVA believes in active engagement with the community at large, which allows for utilization of the diverse, innovative, creative atmosphere of NYC and beyond to enhance training.

We are currently accepting applications for Fall 2017.  Please see our online application for more details: https://school-of-visual-arts.secure.force.com/SiteLogin/.


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Art, Migration, and Youth of Courage

Friday, January 27, 6:30-8pm
Community Lecture: Art, Migration and Youth of Courage
Eileen McGann, ATR-BC, LCAT
133/141 West 21 Street, Room 101C
Free to the public. CEC’s available for ATR-BCs.

Understanding and responding to the experiences of migrants and refugees in a humanitarian manner is crucial for a socially just world.  Reasons for moving, seeking asylum and starting anew vary: for some this comes by choice for others by force. The promise of a better life, the need to flee persecution, shifts in the environment or political systems can be the reason for change.  For young people in a residential facility, the impact of leaving home and all that is associated with this is deeply understood. Common experiences of loss, hope and survival are found in being displaced, removed from the home, migration and being a refugee. Trauma informed interventions supported youth at MercyFirst to explore the meaning of migration, displacement and the plight of being a refugee, from a global and personal perspective.  This presentation will describe individual and group art therapy works that profoundly reveal the experience of trauma, the meaning of home, community, safety and hope.

Eileen P. McGann, ATR-BC, LCAT, has a broad range of clinical experience concentrated in therapeutic milieu and studio approach with young people who have experienced complex and chronic trauma, refugee children as well as adult survivors of trauma and women veterans. Ms. McGann developed and is the Director of the Arts and Creative Therapies program at MercyFirst in Syosset, New York. Her writings about art therapy have been published in the United States and abroad as well as translated into other languages, and her lectures and consultations have been received both domestically and internationally. As a member of Partnership for Global Justice, Ms. McGann presented at a UN Orientation, writes for their newsletter and attends programs at the United Nations. Her artwork has been featured as book and journal covers, and she is a faculty member at Molloy College as well as the Graduate Art Therapy Programs at New York University and School of Visual Arts.

Please RSVP



Posted in Faculty, Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects, Students

“Waking Dreams”: Fountain House Gallery Collaborative Exhibition

Since 2000, Fountain House Gallery has represented artists living with mental illness and helped cultivate their creative growth. This fall, those artists partnered with five MPS Art Therapy students – Michal Assif , Saeideh Golji, Robert Huguenard, Sarah Lovett, and Gabriella Simpson – to engage in a collaborative project. The event was arranged through the MPS Art Therapy Special Projects program, which allows students the chance to engage with diverse populations and broaden the experiences of both student and participant. For “Waking Dreams,” the art therapy students and Fountain House Gallery artists collaborated over the course of three workshops to produce a series of work that will be displayed at SVA from January 13-30.

“It is incredibly validating for the participants to have their art displayed at the end of these workshops,” says Val Sereno, supervisor of the Special Projects program. “It presents a great creative and therapeutic opportunity.”

The artists at the Fountain House Gallery are also members of Fountain House, a center “dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness by providing opportunities for members to live, work, and learn.” MPS Art Therapy has been lucky to have collaborated with Fountain House Gallery in the past, and would be delighted to continue cultivating their relationship in the future. The exhibit is on display in the 5th floor gallery space and can be seen through January 30 by appointment.

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waking-dreams-poster-(1) (1)

Posted in Art, art galleries, Exhibition, Galleries, Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects, Students, Workshops