Press Release Pittsburgh Organizations Explore the Power of Art to Help Traumatized Children Heal

Allegheny General Hospital logo

For immediate release

Wednesday, 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.

Project Sponsors:

Staunton Farm Foundation

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield


Project Program

The Warhol and the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children & Adolescents are hosting a gathering of art and behavioral health practitioners to discuss collaborative program initiatives for people with special needs. The event will take place on May 5, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The goals of this meeting are to look at new and existing art and health collaborations and to explore integrated and mutually supportive ways of working. A wide selection of speakers will present short overviews of their research or collaborative programs followed by lunch and breakout sessions.

About The Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents

The Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents provides mental health assessment and evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents who have experience traumatic life events. The Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents is part of the Department of Psychiatry at Allegheny General Hospital, located on the North Side of Pittsburgh. In addition to direct treatment, The Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents conducts research, produces training tools for clinicians, and develops evidence-based interventions for trauma.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves approximately 3.1 million members through the company’s health care benefits business and employs more than 5,000 people in western Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. For more information about Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, visit

The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Warhol is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.