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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.'"


          Thesis Data


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."

          Selected Works

“Beautiful Boundaries.” Watercolor. 2021.

“Inside Flow.” Watercolor. 2021.

In addition to her work with COPE, Anna recently completed her thesis research project titled COVID-19: Hopes & Dreams - An Arts Based Research Project. Conducted online, the study documented the unconscious (dreams) and conscious (hopes) lived experience of the early days of the pandemic. Participants created art about the dreams they had while sleeping and their hopes for when the pandemic would be over. The results were compiled into a video to communicate their lived experience, which can be viewed here.

For Anna, conducting research during the pandemic was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the psychological aspects of a major historical event while it was happening." Overall, the study offered a safe container for exploring fear, grief, loss, and trauma experienced during COVID, and is another example of Anna's passion for promoting community wellness through art-making. Anna sees a future in art therapy where the post-trauma art experientials used with individuals and families now are modified to be used on a larger scale for community prevention or mitigation.

To learn more about Anna's research project, visit covid19dreams.com. Anna may be contacted at bananachristie@gmail.com.


PROFILES ARCHIVE:

Ari-Asha Castalia brings rich involvement to her art therapy community through facilitating field trips and art exchanges. 

Toni Morley facilitated Memories in the Making, an art group specifically with Alzheimer’s Association.  

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

NorCATA's feature: ​"Art Therapists Making Things Happen", was  envisioned by Robin Valicenti, and is currently curated by Abby Zimberg

 Please contact Abby if you know of a Northern Californian Art Therapist whose art and projects deserve mention in this space.


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NorCATA is approved by the Internal Revenue Services as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that promotes the therapeutic use of art throughout Northern California, public awareness of art therapy, professional development through educational events, workshops, conferences, and more.  All donations are tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.

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