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Memories of Pam Clark

I was the Fieldwork Coordinator at Pratt Institute for most of the 1980’s.  Back then; it was pretty much unheard of for a Pratt graduate to accept and supervise NYU students and vice versa.  Pam Clark thought that practice was ridiculous and called to ask for a Pratt Student.  She felt that we could all learn so much more from each other if we would be willing to supervise students from art therapy programs other than the ones we had attended.  I used to affectionately call her the “crossover kid,” and I was always willing to send her students.  As a supervisor, Pam was conscientious and diligent.  She attended Supervisor’s Meetings and was both curious, to learn what Pratt was all about, and vocal, regarding her role as a supervisor and mentor.
As were many others, I was saddened by Pam’s untimely death.  I felt that NYATA and art therapists in New York had lost someone who had made a difference and would have continued to do so.  I remember going into the art therapy office in Willoughby Hall the following week and posting a big sign announcing Pam Clark’s passing to inform faculty members and students alike.  I did so with a heavy heart and great respect and felt strongly that Pam’s memory belonged there.

The Pam Clark Distinguished Service Award was awarded for several years and then seemed to fall away from our tradition.  When I was NYATA President in the lake 1990’s we needed to amend our bylaws and officers to comply with AATA for chapter status.  To comply with AATA, one of the membership categories was Honorary Life Member, which we began to confer.  At the same time, some of us on the Board remembered the Pam Clark Distinguished Service Award and reinstated it at the same time.  I am proud to be a recipient of that award and to stand among others who have devotedly served NYATA, including Pam herself.

Beth Gonzalez-Dolginko, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT
Former New York Art Therapy Association President
NYATA HLM
8.8.06

The following is a somewhat meandering reminiscence of Pam Clark.  My memories stem from several sources, but merge together as the mosaic that she was.

I was president of NYATA 1983-87 and I believe it was in my second term that we first established the role of the Program Chair.  Until then, various other members of the board sporadically came up with ideas about potential presentation, workshops and respective leader art therapists for our general meetings.  Pam was particularly interested in this, as she felt strongly about developing an educational component of our organization.  She embraced her position with fortitude, carefully considering topics, styles, publicizing, evaluating and engendering discussion.  Her work created the template that for years has brought us together into forums that are both informative and collegial.

My mind goes farther back to about 1980 when I gave a guest lecture at N.Y.U. in one of Edith Kramer’s classes.  I recall a quietly attentive long-haired student who made one comment at the end of the lecture.  She said she was taken with the way the illustrative artwork was “handsomely displayed”.  Putting drawings into matting was elementary in my view, but the fact that she took note spoke of her high standards, professional and personal elegance.

Veniero’s – I can still see her across the table as we planed a series of speakers while enjoying cannolis!  She had lovely balance of seriousness and playfulness- attributes that make for a fine art therapist and friend.

Finally, and sadly, while at the party of mutual friend and colleague Gusty Lange, a couple of us went off to the side still reeling from the loss of Pam a few weeks earlier.  Art Therapist Elisa Eisenman’s husband Robert suddenly had the brainstorm to create an award in Pam’s honor – a stroke of genius. Then, almost in unison, Elisa and I declared she would be the obvious recipient of the first Pam Clark Award, posthumously.  I recall that we attempted to reach her husband to receive it, but he declined attending.  While all these memories remain clear and evocative for me, I am fuzzy about how we handled the NYATA meeting and presentation of the first plaque.  I do, however, know that subsequent awardees were to be considered carefully to ensure they warranted recognition commensurate with the ‘distinguished service’ Pam gave to NYATA.

Irene Rosner David, Ph.D., ATR-BC, LCAT
Former New York Art Therapy Association President
Current Director/Archives Liaison, American Art Therapy Association
NYATA HLM
8.8.06