My elders carried their experiences and trauma of the public school system in Italy, Lithuania, and the US. Some could not attend beyond third grade. Some had their names changed without their consent. Their struggle became part of my desire to be a loving, caring presence infused with a willingness to struggle, too. I call this a kind of commitment to social justice. The use of art-making and imagination support careful attending to what is difficult as well as what is possible when co-creating relational, systems change.
As a white-identified, Jewish, Italian, cis-gendered female without a documented disability, I endeavor to center humility in the process of co-creating spaces, relationships, and bodies for social justice and antiracism. Every human being has the capacity and potential to find something they love to do, want to learn, and become. It is in relationships that we often discover what those desires might be. It is access, opportunity, and challenge that can urge us onward. Growth often requires some tension. Inquiry and play allow us to continue the co-creation of structures where learning, discomfort, and growth have historically been used to break apart harmful binaries.
The arts and relationships have helped me bear witness to the complexities of experience. Making music, for example, actualizes my hope in choices, possibility, and amplifies a willingness to receive someone else's story. The following artists-writers-mentors-teachers-scholars don't know that I have been their student: bell hooks, James Baldwin, W. E. B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, Michalinos Zembylas, Megan Boler, Django Paris, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, John Dewey, Sara Ahmed, Billy Joel, Paolo Freire, Antonia Darder, D.W. Winnicott, Sidney Poitier, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Carl Rogers, Rosa Parks, Isabel Allende...
Creating and relating continue the legacy of those who reared, taught, mentored, and nurtured me with their care, curiosity, and love. I feel their holding when I offer holding to others.
Since 1998, a strength-based, imagination-relationship-focused sensibility has sustained Karen’s practice in NYC, Boston, and rural PA. This included on-site support to New York City firefighters on September 12, 2001. An Expressive Arts Therapies masters from Lesley University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work supports her sustained, professional development grounded in social justice. Intersectionality and historical context have shaped her personal and professional choices. Karen is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at East Stroudsburg University. She enjoys singing, playing piano, guitar, being with family & friends, watching movies, growing things, laughing, & cooking.
Dr. Laura Quiros is an Associate Professor at the Adelphi University School of Social Work. Laura began her work in the clinical arena and has transitioned to working with executive leadership. She helps connect leadership of corporate, non-profit and academic organizations to missions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Laura works to foster inclusion by helping to increase awareness and move towards action.
Dr. Quiros is a Founding Board member of Prospanica Social Justice Center.
Expressive arts are central to my worldview, work, life, and social activism. Over the past 15 years, I have cultivated a varied work life. I am an integrative, neuroscience-informed, social work psychotherapist; a narrative freelance journalist; a digital artist; and an expressive arts advocate.
As a freelance narrative journalist (ASJA member), I work on a wide range of human-interest issues that focus on health recovery, the arts, and resiliency. Understanding place and context are central values in my writing. My storytelling is informed by my education in academia, mental health, social work, and community advocacy.
My stories form a narrative journalistic lens through which readers may view the world. In my counseling work, my primary worldview is a bio-psycho-social narratology (narrative therapy) lens, inspired by my background in narrative journalism. It is crucial to me to understand people in the context of their environment in real time (cultural time). My narrative lens is intersectional with a commitment to understanding the complex identities we hold along class, culture, location, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and accessibility.
For my arts-based work, I am an intermodal artist and an expressive arts advocate. I am passionate about expressive languages—movement, visual arts, drama, writing, and music. I am always on the lookout for the narrative thread of how artistic skills enable us to reimagine our lives when facing challenges. My arts specialization explores the use of expressive arts as multi-sensory processing tools for problem solving, self-expansion, and personal growth.
I am currently completing my certification at the Center for Creative Arts Therapy in Chicago to become a registered expressive arts therapist (REAT). My goal is to teach the benefits of cultivating inner artistry as a direct problem-solving tool to bring to life's challenges, which is how I live my daily life. I am on the advisory board for the BRIDGES, the Rockland Center for Independent Living, and the Rockland Music Conservatory. I am also a member of Anti-Racists Art Teachers. For art-creating, I explore themes of recovery, unfolding and discovery through words, imagery, and color in digital art mediums.