Annual Art Therapy Research Symposium

The Institute of Art Therapy Inquiry (Research Institute) began hosting an annual Research Symposium that has become a centerpiece and signature event. Elements of the symposium have included featured guests, faculty panels, alumni presentations and student posters. Keynote speakers for the Symposium have been Donna Metz Ph.D. (2012), Linda Chapman M.A. ATR-BC (2013), Nancy Gerber Ph.D., ATR-BC (2014), Linda Gantt, Ph.D. (2015), Savneet Talwar, Ph.D., ATR-BC (2016), Bryant Keith Alexander, Ph.D., Dean of LMU CFA, (2017), Heather Tarleton, Ph.D., LMU biologist, and Suzanne Hudson, Ph.D., USC art historian, (2018) and Girija Kaimal, Ed.D., ATR-BC (2019). In 2020, the Research Symposium, a collaboration between LMU and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, was a live virtual art exhibit featuring presentations by artists, art therapists, art historians, physicians, and cancer survivors. The exhibition (Hands to HeArt) can be viewed at LMU's Digital Commons.


Spring 2021 symposium: Amplifying voices through culturally relevant research and ways of knowing during the era of COVID-19. By offering the Symposium as a mechanism of research, we were able to explore what was learned during the COVID-19 era of 2020 through the aspects of silence, solitude, and solidarity. That examination allowed for participants to reflect on culturally responsive research in art therapy. 

Focus: Centered around remote/virtual research related ways of knowing with the focus on advocacy, public awareness, collaboration, and interdisciplinary partnership. Bringing attention to the events of 2020 and COVID-19 and how they were experienced through the voices that are marginalized, left out, or ignored, and the communities impacted.

Theme: Silence, Solitude, Solidarity: Call for the end of silence, recognition of solitude, and promoting the act of solidarity.

Topic: 2021 LMU MFT/AT Research Symposium

Date: May 16, 2021 08:19 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

 Meeting Recording:

Closing: We are grateful for the thoughtful and astounding presentation our illustrious presenters offered through their research, art experience, and break-out discussions.

Closing Exploration: We have included the link to a brief survey that you can respond to after this presentation. As we explore: What is needed to empower art therapy practitioners to engage in research and make it culturally relevant? How do we decolonize creative research?

 Closing Remarks: When is silence aligning with injustice? When do we have to move beyond silence, and self-preservation to voice activism? We have looked at these questions to address the ways we use art/creativity to understand our internal experience (Silence), connect with community (Solitude), and voice inequality (Solidarity).

Often land acknowledgments are used at the beginning of their presentations to bring recognition to the indigenous people of their lands. In many ways, it is becoming performative, when I believe the true meaning is to decolonize spaces. So, I would like to leave you with some resources from scholars that participated in our LMU Institute for Research and Design in Librarianship (IRDL) Speaker series, “Thinking Critically About Research and Power”. It was phenomenal and featured incredibly diverse voices including Kim TallBear – Standing with and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry. She addresses going beyond land acknowledgement, expressing in her presentation, as you stand with the people, you are changing, referencing research for social change and Co-constitution. I would like to end with a clip of Kakali Bhattacharya: De/colonizing Qualitative Research, where she discusses the accountability of the researcher, Con-construction, Neutralizing and Leveling privilege, a framework which I believe accurately supports Cultural Humility.

For more information on the Symposium, contact Dr. Louvenia Jackson.


2021 Speakers

Photo of Gretchen Miller.

Gretchen M. Miller, MA, ATR-BC, ACTP is a Registered Board-Certified Art Therapist and Advanced Certified Trauma Practitioner who has been practicing art therapy in Cleveland/Akron, Ohio for over 20 years. Her work has included youth and women from homes of domestic violence, grieving children and adolescents, families and adults transitioning out of homelessness, survivors of human trafficking, and youth managing mental health recovery. Gretchen is an Adjunct for Ursuline College's Master’s in Counseling and Art Therapy Program and The George Washington University's Graduate Art Therapy Program. Gretchen currently serves on the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Board of Directors and is an Honorary Life Member of Ohio's Buckeye Art Therapy Association.

Photo of Jordan Potash.

Jordan S. Potash, PhD, ATR-BC, REAT, LCPAT (MD)"  is a registered, board certified, and licensed art therapist, as well as, registered expressive arts therapist (USA). He is Associate Professor in the Art Therapy Graduate Program at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and Honorary Associate Professor at the Centre on Behavioral Health and Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong. Jordan has presented courses, as well as conference and community lectures and workshops on art and social justice in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, and Israel. He has authored several book chapters and articles as well as co-edited Art Therapy in Asia: To the Bone or Wrapped in Silk (Jessica Kingsley). Jordan is Editor in Chief of Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. As an art therapist for almost 20 years, 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. For more information, view podcasts of past lectures, or to view his portfolio, please visit

Current Works:

Art Therapy in Pandemics: Lessons for COVID-19
Christine Wang: Pioneering Chinese-American Art Therapist

Photo of Lindsey Vance.

Lindsey Vance, MA is a fine artist, art therapist, and consultant. She holds a BA in Psychology and Studio Art and a MA in Art Therapy, with an emphasis in Trauma and Counseling. Lindsey has experience working as a commercial and fine artist, graphic designer, an art therapist, a manager, and a consultant on many projects. She has over ten years of experience working with youth in crisis and with special needs, wherein she developed and designed appropriate interventions and programs. She has led and managed team projects, as well as served as a central resource to achieving team goals. She often collaborates with diverse partners to maximize the provision of services to clients. On many occasions, Lindsey has presented on art therapy, diversity and trauma to audiences that range from high school students to experienced professionals.

Art/Curated: Virtual Art show
In connection to this year’s Symposium the department will be hosting a virtual art showcase, facilitated and curated by the department’s Active Cultural Explorations Committee (ACE).

20/20 in Hindsight: A Year of Coping, Confronting, and Creating Change
In 2020 the United States struggled to confront a global pandemic, a political crisis, and a history of systemic racism, antiblackness, and inequity. In 2021 the struggle continues. The show, 20/20 in Hindsight: A Year of Coping, Confronting, and Creating Change invites you to look back on the events of the last year, while looking ahead to the future. We are seeking art that served as a way to cope; that confronts social inequity; brings together communities; and/or advocates for and imagines change. The show will be a virtual showcase so largescale projects, community artworks, and digital pieces are all welcome. To submit artwork, read the instructions and download an application.