Tribute for Vija B. Lusebrink
Vija B. Lusebrink, 97, celebrated art therapist, professor, author, artist, colleague, and mentor passed away on June 12. Her passing is sorrowful for countless art therapists across the US and abroad. Her impact on the world of art therapy is expansive and profound. It is amazing that a person who dealt with so many challenges as a young adult evolved into a master art therapist, professor, and author.
Her journey from war torn Latvia to the United States was harrowing both during and in the aftermath of WWII. Yet she, along with her mother and sister, made it to the US. During the early years of her life in the US, Vija received a BS in chemistry, an MFA in painting, and raised three daughters.
Vija found art to be vital to her life. Living in California offered her numerous opportunities for involvement in arts, healing, and human potential workshops, which included learning from noted thinker John W. Perry and renowned art therapist Janie Rhyne. What evolved from these encounters was a passion for learning about and conducting art therapy, which led her to take a position at a hospital for those suffering from mental illness.
At the hospital, she realized that she had a desire to teach others what she learned from conducting art therapy with the patients. In 1974 she applied for and received a position at the Institute for Expressive Therapies (IET) housed at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. She taught there until her retirement in 1995, which included nine years as its director (1986-1995). She was proud to have taught over 400 students through two decades at UofL.