Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR. Judgement Major Arcana Tarot Card #20. 2022. Collage Art.

Art Therapy & Tarot: The Importance of Symbol; Then, Now, and Forevermore

By Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR

November 18, 2022 – February 12, 2023

Opening Reception: November 18, 2022, 6:00PM – 8:00PM Free

Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR (Ph.D. Candidate, Walden University) is a highly accomplished art therapist, practicing in fields across disciplines, including his therapeutic works and services within tattooing, music, writing, body casting; mastering many art media in the name of service as an art therapist, in service to his special needs populations across the country and around the world. In “Art Therapy & Tarot: The Importance of Symbol; Then, Now, and Forevermore,” Spruth gives us a look into his most recent works encompassing a collage set of 78 tarot cards and the craft, history, and cultural importance of the media. The borderless symbolism surrounding tarot is not of one person but all people. Through the tarot deck, Spruth connects the importance of creating art in unique ways as therapy for not only his patients but also himself.

It’s been a long and winding road for Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR with an evolution from his childhood doodling mad-boy to a profoundly spiritual, psychological, and personal approach to the world of fatherhood, tattooing, and art therapy he has today. Symbolism and art in tarot can be seen in the art of tattoo that the artist produces with clients in his nonprofit studio, Sacred Transformations/ TATTOO ART THERAPY. Tattoo is not only an art form but also a tool of healing for Mr. Spruth. Spruth and his clients share a deep investment in both the process and the product of tattoo. Spruth considers the art therapy process, including tattooing, as an act of empowerment and a tool for expressing intrinsic experiences.

This exhibition is done in connection with a programming series including artist talks, guest speakers in the field, and engagement events all surrounding the importance of Art Therapy and topics of healing, empowerment, remembrance, symbolism, and rebirth. For schedule information, visit

About the Artist: Eric Dean Spruth MA, ATR (Ph.D. Candidate) is a trained artist, graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an undergraduate degree in fine art with a minor in Psychology and Philosophy and a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy. He has served as a professor at the Adler School of Professional Psychology Art Therapy program and expressive art therapist within the Cook County Bureau of Health Cermak Health Services/ Cook County Jail, as well as a certified Hospital Bedside Magician offering Magic Therapy with Open Heart Magic. Additionally, Spruth is the founder of Sacred Transformation / TATTOO ART THERAPY collaborating with various human service agencies across the country and around the world including human trafficking programs, mental health programs, and correctional centers. Spruth’s efforts have been featured and recognized by many forms of media, including National Public Radio, Chicago Tonight, Chicago Tribune, The National Health Care, WTTW City Talk, Chicago Reader, WGN TV Morning News, Lakelife Magazine, and many many Tattoo Magazines. Spruth has received many awards and recognition in his field, both as an artist, art therapist, and tattooist.

Dedication: This exhibition and related topic are all based on my Mother (Dalen Ida Spruth) and Father’s (Harold Alfred Spruth) love for the arts, persistence of freedom for all people and the basic and fundamental right to explore the world we live on and those we live with.  Many thanks to my mom and dad and my family at large for fueling my insatiable appetite for the Arts, for reading between the lines, for celebrating the symbol versus the word, the action versus the thought. My father’s 1973 gift to my mother of her very own James Bond 007 Tarot Deck, AKA Tarot of the Witches cards by Fergus Hall, that gift and access to those cards along with our family BOOK OF SAINTS was and continued to be the foundation of my lifelong fascination, inspiration and a very good place for me to be in this life.

Eric Dean Spruth, MA, ATR

“Belly Casting Art Collective is a program that helps pregnant women to embrace their bodies and celebrate in becoming a mother. Pregnant women should be proud because they are the ones who will bring their little ones into their world. Pregnant moms transform into a beautiful experience in a safe and comfortable space using a creative fun process. Transforming your body is to love yourself and carrying a life inside is special moment in every woman’s life.”

About Tattoo Art Therapy: TAT: Sacred Transformations/ TATTOO ART THERAPY, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that was founded by Eric Dean Spruth in 2003 after realizing a need to help those with demonstrative tattoos that he could recognize were experiencing great distress in their self-identity and their personal value as a result of their tattoos. TAT seeks to help people move forward with their lives and away from negative experiences by providing transformative art therapy that minimizes, transforms, or erases these no-longer desired body marks or scars, to give people a fresh start. Eric never claims he is the one helping the individuals but rather the organization is the one helping.

“I design custom works with each person, discussing what the tattoo will mean to them to create an image that becomes a source of daily inspiration to maintain a life of sobriety, a life that includes a commitment to the welfare of children, to family, to the community and for some, to God!” says Eric, “Whatever will help to keep our clients on the right track.” In Spruth’s view, “choosing a new tattoo to express our individuality, as a rite of passage, or a symbol of evolving consciousness, can be a powerful way to affirm personal evolution. It is a concrete way of letting go of the past and making commitments to a better future.” Even more than an individual psychological experience, he practices tattoo as a potentially transformative spiritual experience.  By approaching the process as ritual, Spruth feels we have an “opportunity to explore our psychology in three dimensions and involve our sense of theater, aesthetics, and symbolism, as well as to provide a powerful focus for spiritual energy.”

Thank you to our custom framing sponsor, Practical Angle!

Practical Angle Frame Shop and Art Gallery, 161 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60618

If you have needs for Custom Framing, please consider their 27 years of service in this vital industry. An entire team dedicated to meeting your desired outcome. Many thanks to Mr. Paul Davey for this very significant contribution

About the Contemporary Arts Program: The International Museum of Surgical Science supports a commitment to contemporary art and artists through exhibitions and programs that use the frame of contemporary artistic practice to examine new perspectives in medical-surgical science and our relationship to the body. The Museum’s Contemporary Arts Initiative includes rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as an ongoing Artist in Residence program.

This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

The International Museum of Surgical Science acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.