As a child in the mid 70’s, I had a family member that struggled with depression. Back then they called them “Nervous Breakdowns”. Leather wallets, belts, and moccasins were a popular craft at the time. Then, I never really understood what depression was. I only knew that my family member was sad. When they got out of the hospital, they would be happy, and I would get a new pair of moccasins!
As a cook working in a long-term care nursing facility, I saw a person playing guitar with a group of people. Everyone was really enjoying themselves! I was amazed by what I saw! After the group, I asked them what their profession was. They replied: “I am a Music Therapist.” I had never heard of Music Therapy. As we talked, I shared that I have an Undergraduate Degree in Fine Arts. She said I should explore a career in Art Therapy. I had no idea Art Therapy was a profession, but the more I thought about the sound “Mike Hoelzer, Art Therapist”, the more I got excited to find out about the profession.
Fortunately for me, Milwaukee has a great University (a College in my time) for Art Therapy training, Mount Mary. In 1997, I committed myself to the profession, and have not looked back. During my time at Mount Mary College, I met many great and legendary Art Therapists: Bruce Moon, Don Jones, Lynn Kapitan, Shaun McNiff, and Stan Strickland, to name a few. At that time, as I remember, the program had the feel of another great art school, Black Mountain College. Both were programs where creative exploration was encouraged through most any means, whether it was visual, music, dance, sound, performance, poetry, or any combination! Always, we discussed the clinical significance of the creative process to further patient care and healing. Our studious focus on the parallels between clinical presentation and creative application never wavered.
I began my internship at Rogers Behavioral Health (then Rogers Memorial Hospital) under the guidance of another great Art Therapist, Mary Kay Crawford. Mary Kay was a bit of a radical herself! She embraced creativity and healing on all levels. Most importantly, she encouraged me to always stay true to my Art Therapist identity. I remember after I observed a process group run by a Therapist. I was telling Mary Kay how neat I thought it was. She angrily scoffed at me saying: “If you want to be one of them, you can, but we are Art Therapists!”
Looking back, I had always known creativity, healing, and wellness are connected. I am grateful for what the Art Therapy profession has given me. I am honored to offer Art Therapy to others as a pathway to healing.
2022 Board Members
Blanche Brown, MS, LPC, LMFT
Blanche’s stepfather Robert Bonner was a talented artist and graphic designer. Only after his death did she realize that art was a valuable vehicle for dealing with loss, giving her a very tangible connection to memory and experience. Brown is an art therapist and marriage and family therapist who believes in the power of art to heal, sees the importance of supporting the family unit while advocating for change against the negative effects of systems, and supports those affected by trauma. Brown is an art and community activist whose work addresses social injustices and the psychological and psychosocial impact these issues have on undeserved and underrepresented groups. Her artwork provides a forum for youth, women, minorities, and diverse individuals to openly discuss the challenges they encounter. As a professional artist for over 20 years, Brown has exhibited both locally and nationally and has been a guest artist and artist-in-residence at several schools and community programs. Brown is a certified Yoga instructor who incorporates mindfulness and meditation to encourage a grounded perspective and lifestyle. She is also a public speaker and workshop presenter.
Delora Putnam-Bryant, MS, ATR, LPC-IT
Delora Putnam-Bryant is a registered art therapy and licensed practicing counselor in training. She has experience with individuals needing treatment for PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, mood disorders and dual diagnosis.
She received her Master’s of Science degree from Mount Mary College (now University) in Art Therapy in 2012. She also had the pleasure of attending undergraduate at two Historical Black College Universities, in Jackson, MS and in Huntsville, AL where she received a degree in Commercial and Advertising Art. Delora has prior experience working as a Freelance Graphic Designer for individuals, small businesses and corporations like M&I bank (now BMO Harris). Currently she is employed as an Experiential Therapist for a local mental hospital where she works with various populations from children to adults, and at Art Therapy House.
Social justice is an important part of Delora’s work to maintain equality for the individuals she serves.
Alison Heintz, MS, ATR, LPC
Alison has been employed at Clark County Community as a Clinical Therapist for the past 5 years incorporating art therapy into her practice as much as possible. Previously she worked as an art therapist in a wilderness therapy program and also at an outpatient clinic. A majority of her work experience has been with youth and families.
Justine Kopp, MS, ATRL-BC
Justine is a licensed, board-certified art therapist and received her Master of Science in Art Therapy from Mount Mary University in 2000. Over her years of clinical practice, Justine has worked in a variety of mental health settings with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. For the past eight years and currently, Justine works for Advocate Aurora Health – Aurora Family Service in the Supportive Cancer Counseling Dept. In this medical setting, Justine provides emotional support to adult patients and their families as they cope with a cancer diagnosis and their spectrum of care. She seeks to walk beside those who are living with a chronic illness, life transitions, cancer, grief, depression and anxiety. Justine has a strong belief in the idea that we have the solutions to our problems within and encourages individuals to take a chance to explore and heal.
Jill McNutt Ph.D., LPC, ATR-BC, ATRL, ATCS
Jill is a board-certified art therapist, credentialled supervisor, and licensed professional counselor. She received her Doctoral degree in Expressive arts therapy from Lesley University. She has 20+ years of experience working in medical art therapy specializing in cancer care. Jill also is a partner in the Art Therapy House, Inc. Jill currently works at Advocate Aurora Health, and The Art Therapy House, Inc. Her mission and passion include providing opportunity and service to a diverse and inclusive community focused on emotional, social, and spiritual health.
Amber Brown, MS
Amber graduated from Mount Mary University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Art in Art Therapy and in May 2021 with a Master of Science in Art Therapy and Counseling. Amber is curretly the Program Manager at Donna Lexa Art Centers. She has worked primarily with individuals with specials needs throughout her career and is devoted to Donna Lexa Art Center’s mission to promote creativity, dignity and community through art.
Mira Alexandrea Newell, MS
After graduating with a Master of Science degree from Mount Mary University, Mira worked as an Experiential Therapist at Rogers Memorial Hospital. She specializes in Eco-Art Therapy: utilizing creativity in connection with nature to foster wellness and growth. She has continued with clinical and community work in Wisconsin, Chicago, Hawai’i, Nicaragua, and Croatia. Her private practice, Broken Mirror Healing, offers retreats, workshops and individual counseling opportunities.
Her most recent program is the Comfort and Joy Ornament Project for Waukesha, Wisconsin in the wake of the Christmas Parade Tragedy of 2021. This community art therapy project in conjunction with the WATA Social Action Committee was featured by The Waukesha Freeman, The Shepherd Express, and TMJ4 News. She is now developing an Art for Peace project to aid those affected b the war in Ukraine.
Mira is dedicated to building communications and connections within the art therapy community. As a WATA board member, she is committed to fostering awareness and arts-based action on issues of social justice both locally and globally.
Nicole Vike, LPC, ATR-BC
Nicole is a licensed professional counselor and registered art therapist. She received her Master’s degree in art therapy and counseling from Mount Mary University. She has 5 years of experience working with children and adults in a range of settings including community mental health centers, day treatment facilities, and community art studios. She currently works as a psychotherapist at Whole Health Clinical Group, a behavioral health outpatient clinic. Nicole is passionate about providing a space for all to create and feel safe to express themselves. Nicole enjoys helping clients connect to their own intuition and personal creativity in order to succeed in their personal growth and development.
Vlatko Sagud, MFA, MS, LPC-IT
Member at Large
Vlatko Sagud is an art therapy practitioner at Art Therapy House. As a WATA BOD member, Vlatko hopes to promote the message of unity and acceptance through cultural enrichment and multicultural collaborations. Furthermore, his mission expands to be an international art therapy spokesperson, who would bring the unique field of art therapy and psychological counseling to Croatia, as well as to spread Croatian culture to the U.S.
Vlatko is multilingual with fluency in English, Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian languages, and intermediate German. His fine arts expertise is in sculpture, academic drawing, calligraphy and digital illustration. However, his main recreational expression is in pottery, in which he holds a vocational degree as a ceramic designer.
Dannie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2021, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Art with a minor in psychology. Dannie is a current Graduate Art Therapy student at Mount Mary University. At UWRF, Dannie served as a student senator for diversity and inclusion in student government in which they advocated for inclusion on campus as well as being a voice for minority students, as the president of their university’s Art Therapy Club in which they educated other students on their campus on the field of art therapy and worked on many community engagement processes, and on the student action committee for their campus’s anti-racism task force in which they urged students to make a conscious effort to be an ally to BIPOC populations.