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Format: 04/21/2014
Format: 04/21/2014


AGH, Warhol Museum Explore the Power of Art to Help Traumatized Children Heal

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

PITTSBURGH (May 2, 2012) Pittsburgh North Side neighbors The Andy Warhol Museum and Allegheny General Hospital’s (AGH) Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents today announce a collaborative project that will explore the potential for art to help children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) heal.

Beginning in June 2012, the project features art viewing and art making workshops developed for traumatized children and adolescents. The activities are facilitated by artist educators from The Warhol’s education department, and will include Pittsburgh area children and adolescents, ages 7-17 years old who have developed PTSD symptoms.

Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at The Warhol states, “We are very excited to partner with AGH’s nationally recognized leaders in treating traumatized youth, as we explore ways to use Warhol’s portraiture to teach facial recognition skills to children and adolescents with special needs.”

Having the ability to read the emotions in other people’s faces is an important part of emotional intelligence and social functioning. Some research suggests that children who don’t accurately read facial expressions may not only have difficulty functioning socially, but may also be at risk of victimization in adulthood.

Anthony Mannarino, Ph.D., director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at AGH states, “We know that children who have suffered abuse, or experienced a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, often have difficulty reading other people’s facial expressions, which can cause problems in building relationships. We also know that art can be a powerful tool in reaching out to these young people. We are excited about this collaboration with The Warhol and look forward to seeing its impact on young people in need of a helping hand.”

Participants will analyze and interpret facial features of the people depicted in Warhol’s iconic paintings and Screen Tests, black and white film portraits from the 1960s. In The Factory, a hands-on studio experience, youth will create their own portraits using a variety of techniques, such as silk-screen printing, digital video and animation.

This project is funded by the Staunton Farm Foundation. Joni S. Schwager, executive director of the Staunton Farm Foundation said, “The collaboration between The Warhol and Allegheny General Hospital demonstrates how behavioral health and art can be used to help children who are traumatized in an innovative and unique way. Learning between unlike professionals also helps us better understand and accept one another. The Staunton Farm Foundation is honored to be associated
with this project.”

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is also providing funding. “Highmark proudly supports this unique approach to treating children in our local communities who have experienced severe trauma in their lives,” said Mary Anne Papale, Highmark’s director of community affairs.

For more information, contact:
West Penn Allegheny Health System
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