Kristi Gmutza Curates Refugee Art Exhibit

Kristi Gmutza, Class of 2003, Marylhurst UniversityArt therapy alum Kristi Gmutza ’03 is one of the curators of an exhibition featuring art works produced by Somalia and Syrian refugees at Art of the Soul Studio in Indianapolis. The exhibition runs through Feb. 17, 2017.

The timing for this Refugee Art exhibit couldn’t come at a more crucial moment.

The work reflects the dreams and aspirations of newly arrived refugees from Syria, Burma and Somalia who created it. The show geared up just weeks before President Trump’s executive order to ban immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Refugee Art is the result of a collaboration between Art of the Soul Studio and Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services, and it’s running through February 17 at the Marian Art Gallery at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Refugee ArtA wall-hanging series of collages, entitled “Gateway to Your Goals” exemplifies the kind of work that Art of the Soul does. The collages were inspired by artwork that Kristi Gmutza — an art therapist at Art of the Soul Studios — originally saw on Pinterest. She used it as the template for artwork geared towards the group of Burmese refugees she was working with. The artists used sheets of construction paper that opened up like a gate, to serve as a frame for their collages. The refugees pasted cutouts from magazines such as pictures of cars and houses within them.

“So the idea is this is a gateway that opens up into what the clients want to happen in their lives,” says Gmutza. “You open it up to find things that they want in their lives, a happy family, a nice house…. One particular gentleman wanted a pet dog. So this helps this particular group of clients visualize and put into concrete terms some of the goals they have, in a fun way.”

Gmutza says that art therapy is a growing profession in the state of Indiana.

“Art therapy is a mental health profession,” she says. “All art therapists are trained as mental health professionals, same as counselors or psychologists; we have masters level degrees and training. We’re trained not only in the psychology part but the art part too. So I like to call us therapists plus. Same as music therapists. They’re trained as psychologists and therapists but then they have the added benefit of knowing about music.”

This news item is an excerpt from an article by Dan Grossman published in NUVO Feb. 1, 2017. » Read the full article on

Kristi Gmutza received her M.A. in Art Therapy from Marylhurst University in 2003. She is a member of a team of art therapists at Art of the Soul Studio in Indianapolis.

2017-03-30T01:04:19+00:00 February 14th, 2017|Alumni, Art Therapy, Counseling & Creative Therapies|