The American Art Therapy Association represents a diversity of professionals, students, and organizations across the nation. We recognize and celebrate the work of our members at all levels through our Featured Member series.


“Repetitive Behavior: TRIGGERED/TORN” by Sondra Rosenberg

Pencils and oil pastels. June 2019.

“This piece is 1 of 6 in a small-scale series that explores body-focused repetitive disorders by depicting fingernails as a site of tension. Through the time-consuming and repetitive act of rendering hands in various states, I am both examining and reproducing the fixation on this small but highly symbolic area of the body. Why do anxieties often find expression in the picking at and biting of nails? Anatomically, our nails function as tools of protection, aggression and fine-motor manipulation. Socially, we maintain and present our nails to communicate how we want to be seen and understood. They become signifiers of gender, class and ideology. The pairs of images in this series emerge from the fraught intersection of instinct and self-management. The drawings mimic simple diagrams while exploring and complicating categories of woundedness and healing, disorder and order, violence and playfulness, compulsion and depletion, self-expression and self-destruction.”

“Release” by Meredith McMackin

Handmade paper with pulp printing. 2012.

“This image was from the memorial service for my son who was killed in Iraq in 2007. It was created during a Peace Paper Project workshop at Florida State University sponsored by the FSU Veteran’s Center. The paper was made from the cloth of the dress I bought for his service, which I could never wear again. Cutting the dress into small squares, I released them into water which fed into a machine that slowly ground the fibers down to pulp. I felt a sense of ease and release watching the fibers dissolve the tightness of painful memories and float freely in the cleansing water. The image was created by ‘pulp printing’, spraying fine dyed cotton pulp through a photo stencil; his flag-draped coffin representing the personal cost of war. The finished piece symbolizes my son’s release into spirit as well as my own transformation inspired by his self-less gift of life.”

“Badlands Storm” by Susan D. Loesl

Acrylic paint. 2018.

“I am fascinated by storm clouds with their quickly changing colors and forms as they build up across the sky. Watching this cloudburst approach across our path as we were driving through South Dakota was one of the most significant storms I have seen. To this day, the power of this storm still has an impact on me.”

“Gifts from the Sky” by Melissa Contreras-Walter

Mixed Media 4×6 cards on watercolor paper. 2018.

“When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer my family and I were devastated. Art was the only way for me to process such an emotional time. I made more art than any time in my life. While sitting in the waiting room, after a long day of caring for many family members during this journey and when I was able to reconnect with nature I would create art in some way. These cards are made up of personal photographs created into digital collages with painted backgrounds. My cards symbolize of what I needed most and as reminders of what I have.”

“Unselfishness” by Janeane Grisez

Silk mandala painting. 2019.

 “I create the silk mandalas as an act of self-care to process my day after providing art therapy for my clients. I choose the mandala as it is a container for my feelings, a center point for my process, an ongoing spiritual guide in the work that I continue to do. The silk absorbs the paint, as it absorbs my thoughts, feelings and letting go, unselfishly, so that I might be refreshed to give again.”

“Tightrope” by Pooja Bakri

Acrylic, collage and ink on paper. 2017.

“Memory is a focal point for much of my work as an artist and art therapist. I am interested in memories that we experience first-hand, as well as memories that are passed down to us. My creative process involves the layering of imagery and mediums. Patterns and symbols are often erased and distorted, while always building over a foundation of what has come before. Some characters are clear and in the foreground, while others are muted and pulse beneath them. It is this process that aids in giving visual form to the complex and ephemeral act of recollection.”

“Tension of Home” by Megan Gunkel

Acrylic paint on cardstock. January 2018.

“As I create, I am influenced by the nature around me in Juneau as well as scenes from different places I have lived or traveled. My artwork consists of themes regarding human nature, commonalities in the human experience, and serves as a type of visual journey of my life. When I create, I desire to make pieces that will resonate with others and create connection between the viewer and the art, or spark a conversation among viewers. I believe my desire to connect with others through my work is part of what led me to the profession of art therapy, as it is a venue where art connects the client and therapist to promote healing.”

“Coverage” by Iman Khatib.

Mixed media. 2017.

“My voice is amplified by the layers of my identity.  A Muslim, a woman, a Palestinian-Malaysian.  I find strength and guidance through my heritage and this mask provides coverage from hatred and animosity.  In my work as an art therapist, I strive to recognize and support the layers of identify within every client. Together, we discover the path towards well-being.”

“Mākua” by Lauren Kim.

Acrylic paint on canvas. 2017.

“Mākua valley, located on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, was a vital docking point for canoes in ancient Hawaiʻi, and opened to vital fishing grounds. It was and is still a sacred place for Native Hawaiians. Sadly, during WWII, Mākua valley was (and continues to be) occupied by the U.S. military as an ordnance testing site. The destruction of Mākua valley left ancient temples, fishing shrines and wildlife desecrated. Though the military has not conducted live-fire exercises in Mākua valley since 2004, the valley remains full of unexploded ordnances.

As an art therapist, I hope to act as the mountains that protect and surround a valley; providing a space for safety, acceptance, nourishment, and growth. Like the clients I work with, Mākua survived extensive trauma yet it still stands and continues to flourish today.”

“Untitled” By Annie McFarland.

Alcohol ink and metallic pen. 2018.

“Needing a Home” by Michelle Anne Hololob.

Mixed media.

“This is a response piece to the continued frustrations dealing with my patients suffering with the broken shelter system. More and more people are coming in dealing with homelessness, and, as a therapist, it is hard not to feel powerless at times. I painted with acrylics, dispelling some frustration and finding it unfinished, found the collage piece that seemed to contain all that energy.”

“Metro Riders” by Jordan Potash.

2018. Acrylic on canvas.

“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.”

“Ruby” by Kortney Malone.

From nursing home portrait series. Pastel on paper. 2004.

“As an artist, my creativity is my voice. It sustains me mentally and emotionally in my best and worst moments. Growing up and in my adulthood, I often find art is my free space in life where I can recharge and gain self-awareness, have a window into myself where I choose to be at ease or be challenged, but ultimately art making for me is a place of change to use to connect with others.”

“Staying Afloat” by Ashley Rivera.

February 2018. Tissue paper, water-soluble oil pastels, yarn, and cardboard.

“I Am Enough” by Trica Zeyher.

Mixed media. January 2019.

AATA 2018 Conference Logo Artist Contribution by Nina Hausfeld.

“This watercolor was created during a demo for one of my art groups.  The technique we used incorporated wet on wet watercolor painting and plastic wrap.  This technique allows for the beautiful blending of colors while also making space for the emergence of the unintentional and often surprising shapes, marks and patterns left by the lifting of the paint by the plastic wrap.

In a sense, this process invites us to be completely present and intentional while also letting go of control and trusting in the power of the creative process to reveal to us it’s beauty and meaning.  I find that the approach required to complete this project is a wonderful metaphor for approaching life in general: maintaining presence in the face of the unknown and trusting in the outcome.”

“The Struggle” by Charles Anderson.

Acrylic Painting.

“The sun represents the overpowering pressure of opposition.  Notice the arms and body postures for some individuals in the painting as they enter the struggle.  One individual is about to overcome and in the process begins to sink into the earth.  Another individual notices the person sinking and prepares to help the individual from sinking deeper.

Each individual in the picture represents many individuals who will one day overcome their struggles, but the impact leaves a sting that changes their view.  A view of how they see themselves and the world around them for they will never be the same.”

“Untitled” by Christianne Strang.

2016.  Mixed media/watercolor.

“I’m able to create art fairly frequently. Most often I use a mixed media technique that I call reverse coloring.  The first layer is wet-on-wet watercolor that, when dry, can serve as the basis for a design.  It can be as simple as outlining the gradations of colors to create an abstract design – a doodle that results from the outlining of colors instead of coloring in the lines.”

“Self-Reflection" by Kyla Berry

2011.  Oil painting.

“As an artist, one of my favorite things to do is to create self-portraits.  It’s interesting to see how my style and interpretation of myself change over the course of time.  Progression is such an integral part of therapy, so creating art about me helps me as a therapist and challenges me to think about what clients might feel if presented with a similar directive.”

“The Tractor" by Peggy Gulshen

2017.  Mixed media.

“I am partial to collage and mixed media because I utilize these materials so often with my clients. “The Tractor” allowed me to revisit a childhood memory and to reframe it in a more self-empowering way.

The smallness of the tin has a secret treasure-feel about it. The altered tin holds my reconstructed memory safely…and tenderly.”

“Capable Hands" by Lisa Lounsbury

January 2019.  Acrylic and graphite on paper.

“This art piece was made during our first Focus Group on Maggie and as I was trying to keep all the pieces together, facilitate the group, and not freak out about the things that had gone wrong before people showed u., I could see the image of hands appearing around the chaos. I immediately brought them out more with color and felt like I was being held by the strong, capable hands of my Creator and I could rest.”

“Untitled" by Phoebe Whisnant

December 2018. Watercolor.

“In recent years I’ve gravitated towards watercolor painting as a mindful self-care practice. I find that focusing on the way the colors mix together and flow across the paper keeps me grounded in the present moment. I enjoy letting go of expectations and seeing what unfolds.”

“Degas's Beach" by Lynn Cukaj

2015. Oil paint.

“In honor of Edgar Degas. The serenity and peacefulness of the ocean is balanced with the incoming storm cloud. This piece was part of a juried art show, ‘Up Jumped Spring’ hosted by New Rochelle Council on the Arts in 2017.”

“Beautiful Reach," NYxGA DEF Project by Rob Belgrod

January 2019. Double-Exposed Kodak Gold 200 film.

“Water Break" by Melissa Fannin

March 2018.

“A painting of my daughter taking a drink of water on a hot day.”

“Comfort" by Mollie Borgione

2016. Watercolor.

“I realize as I look at this now, that to people on the West Coast, ‘Comfort’ may not be their title of choice for this watercolor.  However, this painting began as random colors being dripped into a circle. As the colors ran together, a tree began to emerge, and I elaborated on that.  I see it as a Yin and Yang balance of intensity and coolness, passion and peacefulness, destruction and growth.  That opposites can coexist in the same space brings me comfort.”

“Archways" by Julia Culkin

January 2018. Acrylic paint.

“Evolution" by Laura Bauder

May 2018. Acrylic paint.

Featured Member: Melissa Contreras-Walter, MA, AMFT, ATR-P

Featured Member: Melissa Contreras-Walter, MA, AMFT, ATR-P

July 24, 2019

“Working with individuals and their families who are impacted by Autism is a population that I find the most challenging and rewarding. Through all my years working with this population, I have collected many stories from grief to success from siblings to caregivers. The complexities that these families face daily is an opportunity for more mental health awareness for the whole family. This understanding also became the basis for my graduate research from the perspective of siblings.”

Featured Member: Janeane Grisez ATR-BC, LPCC, LICDC-CS

Featured Member: Janeane Grisez ATR-BC, LPCC, LICDC-CS

July 10, 2019

“One of the most exciting things for me is the continuity in the healing power of art. Art therapy brings a voice where no voice may have been heard, connects people creating a common thread and bond, opens doors long closed to provide immense healing, insight and growth. I am inspired when working with interns in their creativity and ongoing progress of the art therapy field.”

Featured Member: Pooja Bakri, MPS, LCAT, ATR-BC

Featured Member: Pooja Bakri, MPS, LCAT, ATR-BC

June 19, 2019 

“One of the things that truly inspires me right now in my work is the theme of human connectivity, and the idea that there is more that connects us to one another than that which sets us apart. I feel very fortunate to join in this journey with my clients as we discover ways in which we are not alone in both our challenges and our hopes for the future.”