September 24, 2020
The art therapy community mourns the loss of Myra Levick, PhD, ATR-BC, a legendary pioneer in the field of art therapy. Dr. Levick helped found the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) in 1969 and served as our first president. As she explained in the AATA’s first newsletter, “For the past twenty years artists have been involved in using their skills to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric patients and in more recent years have not only begun to speak and write about their experiences, but have been recognized for their contributions. It is an established fact that an organization must be formed in order to attain professional recognition.”
Like many women of her generation, Dr. Levick supported her husband through medical school and the start of his medical career while raising three daughters. “I would work while he was in medical school on condition that he would send me to art school, so 17 years later I went to Moore College of Art and Design,” she explained in a March 2019 news interview. Dr. Levick went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Bryn Mawr College.
Dr. Levick also co-founded one of the first graduate programs in art therapy in the world at the then-Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital (which became part of Drexel University in 2002). She had begun working there with patients after receiving her bachelor’s degree in painting. And almost a decade after the Hahnemann program was created, Dr. Levick became a tenured professor—and continued teaching at Hahnemann for 20 years while directing what became its Creative Arts in Therapy program and writing books and journal articles. She taught there until retiring in 1986 and moving to Florida, where she continued practicing art therapy and writing books.
She returned to the Philadelphia area in 2018, when her health began to decline, her daughter said, but continued teaching classes in “art and aging” at her assisted living facility. She passed away at age 96 on Sept. 16, 2020 of complications from a seizure.
Dr. Levick was a powerful advocate for education, the arts, and mental health—but also a passionate leader, visionary, mentor, and friend who touched the lives of so many of us. She will be missed every day. Read her obituary here.
Invitation to Contribute to a Tribute Article
We invite colleagues, friends, and students of Myra’s to share moments, pictures, and other notes in her honor. AATA will compile these responses into a tribute article. Submissions will be accepted by email (email@example.com) through October 10th, 2020. Please include:
- Any memories, moments or thoughts that come to mind about Dr. Levick that you would like shared with the art therapy community (up to 300 words)
- Your name, credentials, and workplace or professional affiliation (optional)
- A photo of Myra or artwork of hers or inspired by her along with a caption for the image (optional)
More Ways to Honor Myra
- Join colleagues on the MyAATA forum to exchange memories about Myra’s life.
- Myra’s life will also be celebrated during the virtual Memorial Service, to take place on Thursday, November 12th from 8:00 to 9:00 pm EST.
- Donations to the AATA Myra Levick Scholarship Fund are being accepted in her honor.