Vice president’s wife puts spotlight on art therapy

Second lady Karen Pence, dressed in green (© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Karen Pence raises awareness of art therapy when she travels. (© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Art can be therapeutic. Karen Pence, wife of the U.S. vice president, champions that message as she travels with her husband on official visits around the world.

Art therapy uses painting, drawing or other artwork to help people suffering trauma or sickness who cannot find the words to express their anxiety, pain or emotions.

“One thing I can bring to this as second lady is making people aware of what art therapy is and how it works,” Pence told the Associated Press. (The vice president’s wife is sometimes called the second lady, following the tradition of calling the president’s wife the first lady.)

During her travels with the vice president in 2017, Pence has observed art therapy programs in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Central and South America. From 2013 to 2017, when her husband was the governor of Indiana, Pence visited similar programs in Japan, Germany, Israel and Canada.

Since 2011, Pence has served on the board of Tracy’s Kids, a U.S. program that uses art therapy to help children with cancer cope with their illness and treatment.

Both art and working with children come naturally to Pence. She holds a master’s degree in education and was an elementary teacher for 25 years. She is also an artist and paints watercolors of homes and historical buildings.

This story was originally published on April 18, 2017.