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Suzanne Ponsioen

The granddaughter of Dutch magic realist painter Johan Ponsioen, Suzanne Ponsioen studied art therapy in Nijmegen, Holland. She worked with drug addicts and jail inmates as a therapist in Germany and Holland in the mid-90s, then moved to Oregon and the former Livewood Commune on Fall Creek in '98. "We lived in a little wooden cabin," she says. "That's where Liva was born. I was a stay-at-home mom." Four years later, after she moved into Eugene, Ponsioen contacted Sister Margaret Graziano, art therapist and chaplain at the Lane County jail, about doing a class. "It was scary -- the jails in Holland are more like a hotel -- but I loved it from the start," she says. "The inmates are just ordinary people who made unfortunate choices." Now a full-time student in marriage and family therapy at the UO with a part-time job teaching teenagers at Looking Glass, Ponsioen still holds one class a month for 12 or so male inmates at the jail. Her own artwork is on view through July 8 in a three-person show at the Corvallis Art Center. Liva finishes first grade this week at the Family School.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 15 June 2006

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