Q&A with IUPUI Elite 50 honoree Kaitlin Knapp (M.A. Art Therapy '17)

Among close to 7,000 students graduating from IUPUI on May 14 is Kaitlin Knapp, a master’s candidate in Herron’s art therapy program who was recently named to IUPUI’s Elite 50

Kaitlin’s interest in the healing potential of art is “both abrupt and powerful.”

In 2013, she spent the summer at Camp Red Leaf in Ingleside, Illinois working with children and adults with disabilities. This experience led to switching her undergraduate studies at Hanover College to studio art with an emphasis in psychology. She completed her degree two years later and immediately applied to Herron’s art therapy program.

During her time at Herron, Knapp has proven herself to be a committed student and a strong leader with over 600 hours of direct-care clinical support at St. Vincent Health. She is completing her master’s thesis as a graduate research assistant on a clinical study with IU School of Medicine, exploring neuroscience and art.

We spoke with Knapp about her reaction to the Elite 50 recognition, what’s next after graduation, and her advice for current Herron students.

HERRON: Can you tell us a little about the work you’ve done that led to this award? 

KAITLIN KNAPP: In terms of research, I’ve collaborated with Herron’s Director of Art Therapy Juliet King; fellow art therapy student Alex Shaikh; neurophysiologist Leisha Osburn; IU Health Neuroscience Center’s Dr. Robert Pascuzzi and Dr. Dragos Sabau; and IUPUI statistician Dr. Fang Li on an EEG protocol titled “Cortical Activity Patterns in Art Making vs. Fine Motor Movement as Measured by EEG.” I’ve also participated in an ALS protocol. 

HERRON: What does being among the IUPUI Elite 50 mean to you?

KNAPP: For me, receiving the honor of being named Herron’s Best in School means that art’s inherently healing qualities are being shared with the community. I hope to continue advocating the efficacy of art therapy in both research and practice in order to benefit my individual patients and the well-being of the community at large. The opportunities that qualified me for this honor would not have been possible without the leadership and guidance of Juliet King, my supervisor Joani Rothenberg, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Art Therapy Eileen Misluk. 

Kaitlin and her grandparents after attending the Elite 50 reception. Courtesy of Kaitlin Knapp

HERRON: What’s next for you after graduation?

KNAPP: I plan to stay in the Indianapolis area and continue to work on expanding our current pilot study with further analysis and report of our findings with Leisha Osburn, Juliet King, and Dr. Pascuzzi. And I hope to continue to expand art therapy services within St. Vincent Health.

HERRON: What is your favorite memory from studying at Herron?

KNAPP: By far, my favorite memory from Herron is attending Juliet King’s "21st Century Great Conversations in Neuroscience, Art, and Related Therapeutics" symposium this spring. It was great to see these seemingly divergent fields of study (art and science) come together in an interdisciplinary forum to further our understanding of art and neuroscience with implications for art therapy. This led to an invitation to publish our collaborative research project in an internationl journal, Frontiers in Neuroscience.

HERRON: What advice do you offer students who want to follow in your footsteps?

KNAPP: Collaborate! I urge every student to exit their professional silos to network, communicate with, and understand the fields of study around them.