WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., April 26, 2023 — The campus community and public are invited to view the senior exhibition now on display in the Creative Arts Therapy Gallery, located on the second floor or College Union.
The exhibition is the work of Creative Arts Therapy seniors Manuela Hoffmann and Taylor Nelson. Hoffman’s projects looks at “Altered Book Journals” with adolescents and Nelson’s examines “Body Art and Mental Health.”
According to art therapy instructor Terri Giller, Hoffmann led multiple eight-week art groups with students from Bridge Street Middle School as she focused on self-expression by teaching students how to create visual art journals using the altered book method, which uses mixed materials to change or alter a book from its original form.
While working with the students, Hoffman noticed how beneficial it was for students, “The students were interested in learning about and using new materials and techniques to transform their pages. They found support for their emotions and experiences in the art making process, but also from one another.” Hoffman is a non-traditional student from Wheeling who returned to college a few years ago and expects to complete the four-year degree program in fall of 2023. She plans to then enter the graduate degree program here at WLU.
Another senior, Taylor Nelson, was inspired to fight the stigma of body art and research the potential for meaning making and healing of tattoos for her senior project, “Body Art and Mental Health.” Nelson spent time researching the history of tattooing and other body modifications such as piercings and their connections to and impact on mental health.
She interviewed individuals with tattoos as well as tattoo artists to learn more about these connections for her project.
“As a moderately tattooed individual, getting the opportunity to learn about how tattoo artists and how tattooed individuals view mental health on a deeper level has been rewarding. Tattoos have a healing power to them, to both the mind and the body,” according to Nelson who is a traditional student from Woodsfield who now lives in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. She will graduate in May and then enter the professional field of behavior health.
“The Senior project is an important aspect in the Creative Arts Therapy major curriculum,’ said Giller, “This gives students the opportunity to integrate all the knowledge they have learned from our courses into a semester- long project that serves the community. Additionally, this project helps students to gain experience, explore their specific interests, and may help to clarify their continued education and career goals.”
Giller noted that undergraduate students do not engage in clinical work or facilitate Art Therapy sessions. but do gain experience leading art directives and working with individuals in the art making process. Art Therapy is a master degree level profession, and facilitated by credentialed art therapists and/or graduate students under supervision by a credentialed art therapist.
WLU has both an undergraduate degree in Creative Arts Therapy, a master degree program in Art Therapy and Counseling and a bridge program that allows students to transition from undergraduate to graduate studies and save time and money in 3 + 2 years. For more information please click here.
The exhibition in the Creative Arts Therapy Gallery through May 5. The Creative Arts Therapy Gallery is located in the College Union, 2nd Floor, Room S27.