The AATA is pleased to introduce Jordan S. Potash, PhD, ATR-BC, REAT, LCPAT (MD) LCAT (MD), as the Editor in Chief of Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. The journal is a prestigious peer-reviewed scholarly publication which has an audience comprised of practitioners, educators, researchers, and students. Its mission is to inform the readership of research, recent innovations, and critical issues related to art therapy.
Dr. Potash is a registered, board certified, and licensed art therapist, as well as a registered expressive arts therapist. He is an Assistant Professor in the Art Therapy Graduate Program at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and Honorary Assistant Professor at the Centre on Behavioral Health and Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong. In almost 20 years as an art therapist, he has worked with clients of all ages in many settings including schools, clinics, and community art studios. He is primarily interested in the applications of art and art therapy in the service of community development and social change, with an emphasis on reducing stigma, confronting discrimination and promoting cross-cultural relationships. Dr. Potash has taught courses and workshops and presented conference and community lectures in the U.S., Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, China, and Israel. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles and book chapters, and co-edited the text Art Therapy in Asia: To the Bone or Wrapped in Silk (Jessica Kingsley).
Dr. Potash has held numerous leadership roles and served on a variety of committees within the Association. He currently chairs the DC Art Therapy Licensure Committee of the Potomac Art Therapy Association and is a former chair of the Multicultural Committee (2003-2005) and Ethics Committee (2013-2016). He additionally serves as a member of the Multicultural Committee (since 1998) and on the Conference Review Committee (since 2012). Dr. Potash also brings extensive journal experience – as author, reviewer, and editor – to his current position. He served as Interim Associate Editor for issue 2 of volume 35 (Special Issue: Medical Art Therapy), on the Journal Review Board since 2015, and as Book Review Editor and Ad-hoc Reviewer from 2010 to 2014. He has also served on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology since 2017. For more information, to view podcasts of past lectures, or to view his portfolio, please visit www.jordanpotash.com.
Dr. Potash answered some questions about his vision for the Journal and offers advice for authors.
What is your vision for the AATA Journal?
I want to build on the strong foundation of the past editors to continue bringing the journal to meet contemporary needs. My vision has three facets:
- highlighting art therapy’s unique contributions to health by identifying mechanisms of change,
- bridging research and practice so that frontline art therapists can put articles into direct use, and
- broadening the author base to ensure that all are included in the large umbrella of our diverse profession.
We accomplish these goals by ensuring quality content. I also hope that we can see the Journal as an evolving forum rather than a static repository. Incorporating author discussions on the MyAATA Community Forum could offer a way to hear from and learn from readers on how they are incorporating Journal publications into their work.
What is the Journal’s role in advancing the profession?
The Journal is one of our few art therapy specific outlets for scholarly reporting and critique. It is where we can communicate who we are on our own terms to forward best practices and to explain to others what art therapists do. Because of that, the Journal has to be open to all, but maintain a critical mindset that can challenge ideas in the interest of moving the profession forward.
In addition to the 50th Anniversary issue, you have already announced two special issues this year – “Art Therapy and Disability Studies” and “Client Voice and Choice Through Art Therapy”. What inspired you to select these topics?
Both areas are recognized gaps in the professional literature. Disability studies asks us to identify physical, rhetorical, and biased obstacles that prevent full inclusion in society. It is a field that challenges prevailing notions of normal functioning and optimal health, as well as curing and healing. I have been a fan of Sandie Yi’s publications on disability and of Cathy Moon’s contributions. They will be an excellent team to bring this topic to us as guest editors of this special issue. Theresa Van Lith has long advocated for art therapists to work in concert with clients to describe art therapy from the recipient’s perspective. This is crucial for developing best practices and research agendas, as well as advocating for what is special about our field. Theresa has a well-documented record in this area and will be able to bring the client voice to the forefront as guest editor. By choosing these underrepresented areas, I hope we hear from new authors.
If you could give one piece of advice to potential authors, what would it be?
Everyone has a story about art therapy. Too many times people say to me “I don’t have anything interesting to say?” or “ I don’t have the time.” To the first question, I say that our field needs both big ideas and how theories can be directly applied with diverse clients. We all have something to teach and to learn. The Journal is structured to accept articles, brief reports, and viewpoints to allow for this range. To the second question, that is a real struggle of being a frontline art therapist. Writing has to be scheduled and it helps to identify a writing buddy who can read drafts, hold you accountable, and offer encouragement.
When starting a research project, how do you approach the blank page? Is there any advice you give to your students that you can share with us?
Research is fundamentally an exercise in curiosity. We are all researchers looking to explain the world. Any phenomenon is ripe for understanding. Researchers are wonderers who need to select the best method for the given situation. Some are best interpreted in stories, some in numbers, and others through art. They can be observed just once or repeatedly over time. Authors should keep in mind that when it comes time to communicate what they found and how they found it, they should write from that perspective’s frame of truth so their studies can be validated on its own terms.
“Metro Riders” by Jordan Potash. 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
Artist’s statement: “I started sketching people in public places as a way to pass the time and liven up an otherwise dull commute. What I found was that I developed a remote sense of intimacy with each subject. Public transportation is an odd space in that we all share it, but try our best to interact with others as little as possible. This scene comprises several sketches from my commute over months. I sketched some of the individuals for almost a full commute, while others were only on the train for a few stops. Even though I do not know anything about any of these people, as I reviewed my sketches and translated them to the canvas, I felt as if I was painting the portraits of long forgotten friends.”