February 14. 2019 | #WeAreArtTherapists


This Black History Month and year round, we honor the contributions of African-Americans to the field of art therapy and to the Association.  This year, as we celebrate the 365 days of our 50th Anniversary, we reflect on our history and look to the future of the American Art Therapy Association.  We are highlighting pioneers, trailblazers, and current African-American leaders this month on social media.  In case you missed our posts, scroll through to learn highlights on the formative contributions of pioneers Georgette Seabrooke Powell, ATR; Charles Anderson, BFA, ATR-BC; Sarah McGee, PhD; Lucille Durham Venture, PhD, ATR; and Cliff Joseph, ATR.

Visit our Facebook event page for daily content all of February celebrating Black History Month. Join us also on Twitter @arttherapyorg and Instagram @arttherapyorg using the hashtag #AATA50th.

Georgette Seabrooke Powell, ATR

Ms. Powell was a Registered Art Therapist, Painter, Muralist, Illustrator, and Educator. As a Post-Harlem Renaissance Artist in the 1930s, she painted as a master artist for the Harlem Hospital Art Project of the Federal Arts Program/Works Project Administration (WPA). She created public art murals to depict social issues, culture, and community. She studied art therapy in the early 1960s, at the Metropolitan Mental Health Skills Center and the Washington School of Psychiatry. In 1966, she created “Art in the Park” a yearly event at Malcolm X Park. In 1970, Powell founded “Tomorrow’s World Art Center” focusing on using art to empower youth, the community, and social activism. She became an Art Therapy Clinical Supervisor at George Washington University and in 2008, received AATA’s Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement .

“Art Changes Things.”

Photo by Chris Capilongo

Charles Anderson, BFA, ATR-BC

Mr. Anderson was a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, Artist, and Educator. He was one of the first AATA members to serve on the AATA ad-hoc committee in the Third World People Group. Charles was a Clinician & Art Therapist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas (1962-2003). He was the founding Chair of AATA’s Mosaic Committee (1990-1994). The Mosaic Committee served as a platform for raising awareness of cultural competence and fostering camaraderie and support among art therapists of color. He was an  Honorary Life Member of the Kansas Art Therapy Association, an Adjunct Faculty member at Emporia State, Avila, and Washburn Universities, a Committee member, AATA’s first Ethics Review Board, and a Former Art Therapy Credentials Board Certification Exam Reviewer. Mr. Anderson received the AATA Distinguished Clinician Award in 2000 and the AATA Multicultural Leadership Award in 2008.

“Everyone is having people make art, but art therapists bring a different level of training and understand art as a medium.”

Photo courtesy of Charles Anderson

Dr. Sarah McGee

Over Dr. McGee’s 50-year career as an art therapist, she used art and creative therapies with urban, poor, African-American families, migrant farm workers, students, multicultural groups, and survivors of domestic violence. Serving youth was core to Dr. McGee’s mission and school-based practices. She received the Project Impact-Special Arts New Jersey Award for Outstanding Arts Educator for students with special needs, and the Governor’s Award in Arts Education (New Jersey). Dr. McGee traveled to Senegal to receive her doctorate and study African healing traditions of dance, music, and drumming to implement diverse and culturally appropriate approaches to use with clients. She received national recognition for her work with New Jersey’s Amanda’s Easel Art Therapy program assisting children and parents in coping with family violence and abuse. In 2001, she received the AATA Women of Color Pioneers Award.

“We bring a voice to the trauma experienced by the children. And, through painting, drawing, music and creating, the children address their terrors and learn to trust again”

Photo by Jerry Wolkowitz

Lucille Venture. Ph.D., ATR

Ms. Venture was a Clinician, educator, mentor, and advocate for multiculturalism and social activism within the field of art therapy. She served on the AATA’s ad-hoc committee’s Third World People Group (1973). She was a Co-Chair of the 7th annual AATA Conference in 1976. Lucille was the first person within the profession to earn a Ph.D. in Art Therapy. Dr. Venture authored a dissertation titled “The Black Beat in Art Therapy Experiences” in 1977. She was the Co-founder of the Maryland Art Therapy Association and the Chapter’s first President. In 2017, she received AATA’s Multicultural Legacy Award.

“It is my feeling that art therapy, if it is to be effective, must be approached in a manner which enables the poor to become actively involved, on their own terms, in the struggles against racism and poverty”

– Lucille Venture, The Black Beat in Art Therapy Experiences

Photo courtesy of AATA archives

Cliff Joseph, ATR

Mr. Joseph was a Registered Art Therapist, Artist, and Activist. He attended the formational meeting of the AATA in 1969. He was the AATA’s first African American member. He was an original ad-hoc committee member of the Third World People Group and a New York Art Therapy Association member. He was an educator at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, and an Art Therapy Clinician and Director at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Hospital in New York City. He authored Art Therapy and Third World (1974), Murals of the mind (1973), and Creative Alliance: The Healing Power of Art Therapy (2006), and starred in the documentary: Conversations with Cliff Joseph (presented at the 2006 AATA Annual Conference).

“We have so much available to us that is creative, artistic. It’s been my experience that we can reach people more easily on those creative levels than we can by trying to discuss things verbally”

Photo from “Conversations With Cliff Joseph” (2006)