The Multicultural Committee embraces an inclusive definition of culture. It provides information, networking, and mentoring for all art therapists to develop multicultural proficiency and increase diversity within the American Art Therapy Association. The American Art Therapy Association is committed to diversity and cross-cultural inclusiveness in its membership and in the development and provision of art therapy to the public.


  • Art Therapy Multicultural/ Diversity Competencies: Designed to clarify the types of multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills art therapists need to acquire to work effectively with persons from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups
  • Selected Bibliography and Resource List: Provides art therapy specific references pertaining to multiculturalism, social and cultural diversity, as well as social justice
  • Fostering Multicultural and Diversity Competence in Art Therapy: This course advances multicultural and diversity competence as essential to ethical practice and the cornerstone for effective art therapy practice (American Art Therapy Association’s Institute for Continuing Education in Art Therapy – ICE/AT #0207)
  • Multicultural Exchange and Programs: Annual American Art Therapy Association Conference
  • Connecting with a Multicultural Committee Member: linking art therapists and art therapy students with same racial, cultural professionals for camaraderie, supervision, and support


Pearlie Roberson was an African American artist and art therapy client. Through her art therapy work, she painted and sculpted powerful metaphors that explained how she felt about herself during certain periods of her life, her spiritual belief in Christianity, her kinship connection to her African heritage, and her feelings about the progression of her illness. As acknowledged by her art therapist, “Art-making profoundly affected Pearlie’s final months and days; it provided an avenue to her own strength that helped through dark hours of long nights. It gave her perspective and peace.”

The Pearlie Roberson Scholarship Award is specifically designed to provide financial support for an art therapy project or research project, undertaken by a Student or Professional member of the American Art Therapy Association, which targets multicultural aspects and capacities of art therapy. The award is based on the merit of the project proposal, not financial need. Recipients of the award are encouraged to present the winning project at the American Art Therapy Association Annual Conference.


Art therapists of color began advocating for increased multicultural competency and support for fellow art therapists of color in the American Art Therapy Association as early as 1978. They formed into an official committee in 1990, first as the Mosaic Committee and later as the Multicultural Committee. A brief overview of the history, current priorities, and future directions was documented in the article:

Potash, J.S., Doby-Copeland, C., Stepney, S. A., Washington, B.N., Vance, L.D., Short, G.M., Boston, C.G. & Ballbé ter Maat, M. (2015). Advancing multicultural and diversity competence in art therapy: American Art Therapy Association Multicultural Committee 1990 – 2015. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 32(3), 146-150. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2015.1060837

Notable art therapists of color who were pioneers in the profession include:

  • Charles Anderson: Anderson is an African-American art therapist, exhibiting artist, and founding chairperson of the Mosaic Committee. He worked at the Menniger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas and as a Recreation Specialist in the U.S. Army. Click here to view his presentation, “My Journey in Art Therapy.”
  • Cliff Joseph: Joseph was the first African-American registered art therapist and founding faculty of the Pratt Institute Art Therapy Program. His democratic participatory approach to working in a psychiatric hospital is documented in his co-authored book Murals of the Mind (1973), interview with Anna Riley-Hiscox (1997), and reflective essay Creative alliance: The healing power of art therapy (2006).
  • Sarah McGee: McGhee was an African-American art therapist who integrated cultural healing into art therapy by traveling to Senegal to learn traditional healing rituals involving art, music, dance, drumming. She also worked with migrant workers to advocate for economic justice.
  • Wayne Ramirez: Ramirez is a Puerto-Rican art therapist who was the founding president of the Wisconsin Art Therapy Association. He advocated for a broad definition of art therapy in line with his work in special education and the Arts Mobile Bus in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Georgette Seabrook-Powell: Seabrook-Powell was an African-American artist in the Works Progress Administration who continued painting her whole life. As an art therapist, she worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington DC and founded the community art and art therapy program Tomorrow’s World Art Center.
  • Lucille Venture: Venture was a founding member of the Maryland Art Therapy Association and the first art therapist to earn a doctorate (PhD) in art therapy. Her thesis “The Black Beat in art therapy experiences” (1977) described an historical account of the profession from an African-American perspective, as well as her work in the Crisis Art Therapy Program (school-based behavioral management) and the Kid’s Room (prevention).
  • Christine Wang: Wang is a Chinese-American art therapist who served as the Reservations Chair for the first American Art Therapy Association conference and Treasurer (1974-75). She worked at DC General Hospital and George Washington University Medical Center. She was the director of the art therapy programs at Hahnemann University (1978-80) and Goucher College (1980-86).