ART THERAPISTS MAKING THINGS HAPPEN!
Anna Bazis Christie
During this time Anna also facilitated remote wellness and stress reduction workshops for COPE staff and families. Contract tracing is tremendously stressful; staff inform patients of potential exposure, check on those in isolation or quarantine, and are often the patient's only contact. Creating time for wellness, self-care, and community became vital to sustaining this work. Wellness workshops took place via Zoom, and incorporated breath and movement exercises with mindful, strength-based art making activities.
As one of the few white staff members working for COPE, Anna credits her recent NDNU fellowship assisting Dr. Sarah Kremer with the Cultural Intersections in Art Therapy CE workshops with helping strengthen her cultural humility practice and preparing her for working with the Navajo Nation. "It was life changing for me to have been led by a group of women with such strength, patience, love, honesty, humor, authenticity, and hope through such a dark time," Anna reflects. "The capacity to love and care for each member of the group was openly acknowledged as a top leadership skill. One of our mottos was 'We are building this airplane together as we fly it.'"
Participant "hope" images included themes community or collective wellness.Participant "dream" artwork included themes of loss, grief, and death.
Anna Bazis Christie, MA Art Therapy (she/hers)
Interviewed by Sonja Kari Murphy, AMFT (she/hers)
Anna Bazis Christie is an art therapy graduate student with a background in public health and a passion for using art to support collective wellness. Now in her final year at Dominican University (formally Notre Dame de Namur University), Anna previously worked as a Health Education Supervisor for UCSF School of Medicine, where she led youth and community health programs for over 7 years. Teaching physical health, sexual health, and women's health, Anna often integrated art as "the sugar that made the health education medicine go down." Anna recalls one moment in particular that sparked her interest in art therapy: "One day a young woman silently shared her art with our group. It had a visceral impact on all of us — I realized at that moment the art itself was the medicine. I knew I needed to learn why."
Returning to graduate school hasn't stopped Anna from continuing to work in public health, however. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Anna took an emergency response job with the Diné (Navajo) Nation through Community Outreach and Empowerment (COPE), a small Indigenous-run non-profit. Anna helped train and supervise remote Contact Tracers and Disease Investigators. At the time, the Navajo Nation had one of the highest rates of COVID in the world, compounded by pre-existing disparities from years of genocide, colonization, and social injustice. Patients often lacked basic resources like running water and electricity, making simple mitigation efforts such as handwashing difficult. Anna recalls "it was sometimes completely overwhelming during the initial surge. We often had three times as many calls as we could make and everyone was working a crazy amount of hours."
“Beautiful Boundaries.” Watercolor. 2021.
Ari-Asha Castalia brings rich involvement to her art therapy community through facilitating field trips and art exchanges.
Peggy Gulshen has founded multiple Art Therapy programs in California which support bereavement for children and cancer patients.
Shan Ru Lin works in Chicago at a homeless service agency for women
Bruce Moon is an Honorary Life Member of the American Art Therapy Association; an art therapist, educator, artist, author, and a singer/songwriter
Melissa Diaz work features transitional objects and touch reflecting Diaz's interest in crystal healing energy
Melissa Alvey's multicultural heritage and experiences abroad influenced her work with communities that have experienced violent conflict
Nancy MacGregor works with the evolving themes and imagery of pain, growth, and healing, as well as their integration
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