Colorado Art Therapy Association
Winter Newsletter - 2021

Bunnie Reiss

Hope, Solidarity and Connection
Dear Colorado Art Therapy Community,

As a new year begins, we want to express gratitude for the beautiful care that the art therapy community has devoted itself to through the difficult year of 2020. At the beginning of 2020, COATA started with a few board members and a small community. We are happy to share that the CO-ATA board and its members have grown to nearly a full board with new board positions and many new members. This would not be possible without your support! Art therapy has once again proved to thrive in leading assistance through healing journeys especially in these particularly stressful times.

We are filled with warmth and gratitude for you all. Last year has brought on intensive periods of reflection and if there is a word we will take away, to sum up, our overall experience it would be solidarity. Solidarity is the unity or agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common goal, interest, and share mutual support. Each of us had to take a look into our values to lead us in the way of creating hope and connection. That is why last year's online art gallery show is titled: Hope, Solidarity and Connection. It seems to uphold everything that you all have upheld over the past year and we want to move forward into this year.

Currently, we are working hard to bring you another year of support and togetherness as we plan the 2021 calendar with our amazing new board. It saddens us to say goodbye to some of our board members, but we are thrilled to continue seeing their work as art therapists in the Colorado community. We hope to continue serving the Colorado art therapy community and honor each of your voices.

Stay well and remember to practice self-care!

Happy New Year from your CO-ATA board.

Jacenta L Irlanda
CO-ATA President
Art Therapist in the Spotlight
Valerie Epstein-Johnson
This winter, the Colorado Art Therapy Association interviewed local art therapist, Valerie Epstein-Johnson.

In her interview, Epstein-Johnson tenderly shares how her love of art therapy deepened while coping with her mother's passing. Her practice has evolved over the years to include existential, spiritual and humanistic theories.

One of Epstein-Johnson's most recent accomplishments includes publishing a chapter in the new release, Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues: Birth, Death and Rebirth.
Colorado Art Therapy Association Updates
Online Art Gallery Grows
A little wish to create an art show during the pandemic led the Colorado Art Therapy Association to develop a Virtual Art Gallery! Over the past several months, our online gallery has grown to include nine local art therapists and their work.

As we embark on a new year, we want to reinvigorate our gallery to showcase new art therapists and their work. We encourage all members to submit art that speaks to the theme: Hope, Solidarity and Connection.

Ready to submit or have any questions? Contact us at the link below. We look forward to hearing from you and to seeing your inspiring work soon!
Tim Massholder
(Image from Unsplash)
A Warm Welcome to the Board
The Colorado Art Therapy Association board is growing and we are so excited to welcome three new board members this year, Website Chair, Lindsay Ritscher, Chapter Delegate, Trica Zehyer and Peer Supervision Chair, Kerry Jessup!

Welcome to the board and thank you for your dedication to serving the Colorado art therapy community.
Website Chair- Lindsay Ritscher, MS, LPC, ATR-P

Ritscher works at Mount Saint Vincent as Supervisor to the Creative Arts Therapy Team, providing invaluable services to children and their families.

Ritscher's art therapy work is guided by humanistic and psychodynamic theories with a strong emphasis in neurodevelopment.

When we asked Ritscher what she is looking forward to about serving as the new Website Chair, she said, "building community and redesigning the website!"
Chapter Delegate - Trica Zehyer, MA, LPCC, NCC, ATR-P
(in progress)
Zehyer currently works in private practice with LGBTQIA adolescents, young adults and adults. She views the therapist relationship as a partnership and encourages clients to engage in their self-improvement, based on their chosen goals!

As an active member of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), Zehyer has years of experience attending and participating in AATA's Annual Art Therapy Conference.

Zehyer hopes to, "encourage and continue to develop a sense of connection and cohesion with AATA (and COATA) over the next year!"
Peer Supervision Chair,
Kerry Jessup, MA, LPC, LCAT, ATR-BC
Jessup works with Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan, a state psychiatric hospital serving adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses.

Jessup is looking forward to the expansion of the new Peer Supervision Chair and offerings for COATA in 2021.

She encourages all members to sign up for Peer Supervision and says, "this is a wonderful opportunity for both established professionals and new clinicians to offer each other support and fresh perspectives with challenging cases and clinical issues!"
Art News
Art on the Frontlines Continues:
The Role of Art on Wellbeing and Social Change

American Art Therapy Association (2020). Art therapy on the frontlines: 2020 annual impact report. Retrieved from:

Kapoor, N. (2020, August 31). Art for solidarity. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retreived from:
Amplifier Art: The Wellbeing Project
Art for Solidarity

Apart, Yet Closer Than Ever
Bonnie Brown
Let Yourself Rest
Shirien Damra
COVID Compassion
Cam Watts
Spread Love
Skye Sturm
Image References

Kapoor, N. (2020, August 31). Art for solidarity. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retreived from:

Inaugural Poet, Amanda Gorman
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman, youngest inaugural poet and National Youth Poet Laureate of 2017, captured the moment with her dazzling poem, The Hill We Climb.

Gorman spoke in an interview about her struggle to write the poem and that weeks leading up to the inauguration were exhausting as she worried that she would not be able to complete the task-at-hand. Gorman referenced the play 'Hamilton' in her poem to honor its role in helping her overcome a lifelong speech impediment (Andrew, 2021).

While Gorman speaks openly about the struggles she has faced to bring her art to life, she ends her poem with these powerful lines, 'for there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it.'

Thank you Gorman, for bravely and boldly sharing your art form with the nation and for showing us how, as Andrew (2021) put it, "to be the light."
The Hill We Climb
When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We've braved the belly of the beast,
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn't always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn't broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn't mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we'll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we're to live up to our own time,
then victory won't lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we've made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it's the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children's birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.

Andrew, S. (2021, January 21). How a 'Hamilton' song helped Amanda Gorman overcome a speech impediment. Retrieved from:

Foussianes, C. (2021, January 21). Amanda gorman's poem stole the show at the inauguration. Read it again here. Retrieved from:
Spread the Message of Hope, Solidarity and Connection
Cover the Walls with Hope is a small group of Philly-based individuals, who are using art to support mental health, share public information and to dream of a more just future.

The project aims to fill yards, businesses and community spaces with images that support our psyche at this time.

Want to join in? Make more art, upload your posters and/or download free posters to post in your Colorado community.

About the Cover Artist

Bunnie Reiss, a Colorado Native, currently resides in Los Angeles. Her imaginative art work is influenced by her European background, traditional folklore, magic and mysticism.

Reiss has spent the past seventeen years developing her unique style in the Bay Area. She gives credit to her, "weird art community" and family in helping her to become the artist she is today. She says, "eating, loud talking and community have shaped my life."

Reiss' art work can be seen in galleries, bookstores, open fields and forests all over the world! From Mexico to the Philippines, France to the United States, her art work continues to spread a message of hope, connection and solidarity.
Bunnie Reiss

Now is an exciting time to join the COATA Board!

We are seeking to fill the following positions:

Vice President
Student Liaison
Art Show/Event Chair
Colorado Art Therapy Association |