Dr. Girija Kaimal: The Impact of Art As Therapeutic Tool

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

Textile artist Dr. Girija Kaimal has been principal investigator for evaluation research on several longitudinal studies including those funded by the U.S. Department of Education, The School District of Philadelphia, Lehigh University, Drexel University, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Temple University. Dr. Kaimal’s research aims to understand the implications of autobiographical narratives and creative self-expression especially among underrepresented and vulnerable populations, on health and well-being. She is particularly interested in the role of creativity and self-expression in empowerment and learning about self and others. Most recently Dr. Kaimal has been collaborating with the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and the NEA Military Healing Art partnership on a research study of art therapy with military service members with PTSD and TBI.   She is also completing a five year study evaluation study on leadership development (funded by the U.S. Department of Education and Lehigh University) on how participation in the arts could ignite learning transfer to leadership practices. Dr Kaimal’s research on health outcomes of artmaking (links between biomarkers like cortisol and creative visual self-expression) was featured on several media sites.  She serves as a research consultant on international development projects related to gender equity and arts-based psychosocial support for vulnerable children and adults in trauma zones around the world. Dr. Kaimal was the recipient of the Drexel University Career Development Award in 2014 and the American Art Therapy Association Research Award in 2015. In addition to her teaching and research, Dr. Kaimal is a practicing visual artist and her work explores the intersection of transnational identity and sustainable artistic practices. Her work has been exhibited at the Google Cultural Institute (through the Smithsonian Asian and Pacific American Center), City Hall and other exhibitions. Dr. Kaimal holds a Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Master of Arts in Art Therapy from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Arts in Design from the National Institute of Design in India.

This talk was recorded on April 2, 2016 during the MooreWomenArtists Film Festival in conjunction with the screening of Danielle Beverly’s film Learning to Swallow. The Festival was presented by Moore College of Art & Design in partnership with Women Make Movies.

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