3 Questions with Tami Herzog-Rodriguez

Javier Duran (MPS Art Therapy Class of 2020), Adaptive art easel for a child with vision impairment

Tami Herzog-Rodriguez, PhD, ATR-BC, LCAT, teaches the Child Art Development course for first year MPS Art Therapy students. The focus of the course is to examine the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of children, as well as the psychological and environmental influences that impact development. Every year the students create and exhibit children’s books that address coping skills. This year there is an added element to the exhibition: adaptive art therapy materials created by students!

Can you share the process and materials required to create an adaptive art therapy easel?
The class learns how to create an adaptive easel using three basic materials; cardboard, glue, and a utility knife. Cardboard is affordable, safe, and durable. Therefore the class uses specific techniques to construct a basic easel using tri-wall cardboard. We go through the steps of measuring, cutting, bending, assembling, reinforcing, edging, sanding, and painting which I learned from the Adaptive Design Association in NYC. Then students customize the adaptation to meet the needs of a specific client and write a justification for their specific adaptation.  For example, one student added a base and straps which could attach the easel to the handles of a wheelchair.

What led you to introduce this method to the child art development class?
In class we study art therapy approaches for a range of physical and cognitive impairments. Yet there are many individuals with disabilities who simply are not able to participate in art therapy without adaptations. Ordering adaptive equipment from a catalogue is an expensive solution which may not fall within a program’s budget for art materials. Also, the adaptations purchased may not fit the unique needs of the individual. When art therapists know how design custom adaptations using widely available, low cost materials, they create an environment of inclusion.

How can the content of this experiential/class be applied to other populations?
While this project is designed for the Child Art Therapy course, creating an easel with tri-wall cardboard can be used for clients of all ages and abilities. The easel itself can be personalized and decorated with the client. The easel can hold a client’s artwork as well as their preferred art materials.

Interview conducted by Jenny Asaro (MPS Art Therapy Class of 2019)

Sarah Fine (Class of 2020)

The exhibition, Adapted Easels and Stories for Children: Child Art Development Class Show, will be exhibited December 5-19, 2018 in the 5th Floor Gallery space at 132 West 21 Street.

Throughout this course, students study ways to adapt art tools and processes for children of all ages and ability levels. The class creates and customizes adaptive easels using three basic materials: cardboard, glue, and utility knives. They also adapt stories by writing and illustrating books on difficult topics such as bereavement, hospitalization, and trauma.

Viewing Hours:

  • Thursday, December 6, 10am-12pm
  • Friday, December 7, 3-5pm
  • Saturday, December 8, 12-3pm
  • Monday, December 10, 3-5pm
  • Tuesday, December 11, 3-5pm
  • Wednesday, December 12, 3-5pm
  • Friday, December 14, 3-5pm
  • Monday, December 17, 3-5pm
  • Tuesday, December 18, 3-5pm
  • Or by appointment, please contact [email protected] or 212.592.2610 to schedule.
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