The Evolution of Art Therapy in Maryland

The Maryland Art Therapy Association (MATA) began in 1970 by 5 founding members: Roberta Shoemaker (Beal), Jaynie Perlman, (later Hessa Tary), Lucille Venture, Aina Nucho and Regina Krause.

There had been a gathering called by Elinor Ulman in 1965 at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, which consisted of 75 people. She suggested that a national organization was needed at this time. Ulman informed the founding members of MATA that if art therapy jobs did not exist in Maryland, it was up to them to create them.

The roots of AATA and MATA overlapped in the organization’s early days. Dr. Myra Levick was the President of AATA at the time of its formation, and the group of 5 met once more with national leadership at the 2nd annual Conference of the American Art Therapy Association, in Airlie Virginia in 1970.

MATA was the third state association formed in the US. MATA meetings during this time were held in homes and living rooms, until members started giving presentations and inviting guests. MATA met in the same living room where the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was founded from 1970 till 1974. In 1974, MATA members drafted the first edition of the organizational bylaws.

The 7th annual Conference of the American Art Therapy Association was held in Baltimore, Maryland in 1976. One of the first art therapy exhibitions, "Art as Therapy" was held at the 1976 AATA conference. It consisted of 200 artworks by patients, and was placed on long term display at The American Psychiatric Association's National Office.

Art Therapy Pioneers in Maryland

Roberta Shoemaker (Beal) was the founding chair-person. Roberta taught the art therapy clinical course at the first art therapy program in Maryland, at what is now Towson University.

Dr. Lucille Venture was the first PhD in Art Therapy (Union Graduate School), the first African American Art Therapist, and the first President of MATA. She taught an undergraduate art therapy course "Art and Play Therapy" at the Homestead Monebello branch of Antioch College beginning in 1973. Lucille led the way for multiculturalism and de-stigmatizing mental illness in her approach to art therapy.

Dr. Aino Nucho received her Master’s in Social Work and developed an art therapy course at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work that she taught for nearly 30 years.

Lucy Davis (Wood) began the first art therapy undergraduate/graduate courses in 1973. Lucy's class was an overview of art therapy, and had a different art therapy pioneer lecture each week.  Joan Kellogg first lectured on her Great Round of the Mandala in this class, as well as regular speakers such as Dr. Lucille Venture, Harriet Wadeson, Hanna Kwiatkowska, Michele Flesher, Bonnie Smith-May and Peggy Kolodny. Julia Anderson continues an undergraduate art therapy course at Towson to this day.

Elinor Ulman, a Baltimore native, was a positive influence on these early pioneers and thus for MATA. She also founded the Journal of Art Therapy.

Joan Kellogg was a resident of Baltimore County and another influential teacher. Her early research on mandalas with the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center has evolved to being part of current Johns Hopkins research. She was the first to study Guided Imagery and suicidal patients and was a driving force in the Jungian influence on art therapy. She motivated art therapists on the importance of art therapy research and did much of her early research in Maryland.

Bonnie Smith-May began an art therapy program at Taylor Manor Hospital while still a graduate student. She was one of Joan Kellogg's first art therapy students in Baltimore 1973.

Christy Bergland was the first art therapy Graduate intern at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in 1977, and was the first graduate of an art therapy program to be hired at Sheppard Pratt. She was part of the task force to develop the Trauma Unit and recently retired from working at Sheppard Pratt’s Retreat. She was the first MATA member to be published in The Arts in Psychotherapy.

Rita Singer was an early student of Roberta Shoemaker, and was present for Roberta's first teaching of the Rainbow Phenomenon, the psycho-physiology of color, in 1974. Rita began mindful based art therapy at Sheppard Pratt over 20 years ago, where she still works.

The late Audrey Eisenstein Doll, another early art therapist at SEPH, was the first to chair the Legislative Committee for licensure and contributed to the success of including art therapists in the LCPC licensure in the late 1980's-early 1990's, testifying in Annapolis.

Gwen Gibson began working as an Art Therapist at North Charles General Hospital's psychiatric. Gwen was married to Dr. Bob Gibson, CEO of Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, and was an early influence on the art therapy program there that has prospered over the years.

Barbara Treasure became the first Maryland art psychotherapist with a graduate art therapy degree in a primary therapist role in the late 1970's

Peggy Kolodny was the second art therapy graduate intern at SEPH in 1979. Peggy was the first Maryland art therapist expert witness in 1983, and the first to direct a private non-profit agency, the trauma-focused Family Connection, in 1988.

Charlotte Boston was a founder of the Multi-culture committee for AATA and has continued on to other AATA positions. She is currently President-Elect of the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB).

MATA Presidents, 1970 to 2017

Roberta Shoemaker (Founding Chairperson)

Lucille Venture (First elected MATA president 1971)

Gwen Gibson

Bonnie Smith-May

Michelle Flesher

Roberta Shoemaker-Beal (Then went on to the AATA Board 1985-89).

Sarah Arnold

Jeanette Fino

Bonnie Smith-May  

Jeanette Fino (Multiple years)

Peggy Kolodny (Multiple years)

Ruth Ross

Lori Greenfeld

Charlotte Boston

Julia Anderson (Multiple years)

Amanda Bechtel (Multiple years)

Erin McConnell

Roz Vanderpool

Current President- Mallory Van Fossen (Designed 2016 AATA conference logo)

Recent MATA accomplishments include our Legislative Committee's efforts led by Elizabeth Hlavek and Amanda Bechtel in obtaining State Licensure, succeeding with the first Art Therapy License (LCPAT) that offered both title protection and insurance reimbursement, effective 2012.

Peggy would like to thank Roberta Shoemaker-Beal, Lucy Wood, Christy Bergland, Charlotte Boston, and Bonnie Smith-May for their invaluable contributions to this history.

Written by Peggy Kolodny (MATA Historian) and contributors