WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. Nov. 16, 2022 — According to art therapy research, masks can be seen as therapeutic tools for self-discovery and expression.
As a part of her senior project, Creative Arts Therapy senior, Dakota Lish, led an art project with students from Brooke County High School with the help of art teacher Sara Roark and school aid Rebecca Kaniecki.
There were approximately 20 students in the class and the art project focused on self-expression through mask making.
The result of the mask-making is now on display in the Creative Arts Therapy Gallery, located on the second floor of the College Union, Room S27. An opening reception is planned for 6 p.m., today (Nov. 16).
Lish gave the prompt to create the masks as a way to express their personality and individuality, without having any limitations on what they could create. Each mask was made using plaster and clay and then decorated with paint, collaged images, found objects and other trim.
“Self-expression allows for students to understand themselves, but also develop more beneficial relationships with those around them,” said Lish who is from Yorkville, Ohio and plans to earn her master’s degree after commencement.
They also explained that allowing the students the opportunity to express themselves, also opens up space for creativity. “Through this self-expression, they can also recognize and deal with feelings and emotions instead of denying them,” she said.
While working with the students, Lish noticed how much they got into the process.
“The students were focused on their project every day and seemed to really enjoy the process as a whole. Each mask was different and unique to the individual. At the end of the week, I had the students fill out closing thoughts sheets and I could tell by their responses that the technique had been therapeutic for them,” she states.
“As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed working through this senior project and working with teenagers. It was a different demographic that I had been used to, but I felt like the process was beneficial for them and for myself. I can see myself wanting to work with this age group in the future,” Lish added.
“The senior project is an important aspect in the Creative Arts Therapy major curriculum,’ said CAT Instructor Terri Giller, “This gives students the opportunity to integrate all the knowledge they have learned from CAT 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.”
WLU has both an undergraduate and graduate degree program to offer prospective students interested in the career of Art Therapy. Please click here for details.
It is important to note 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’s level profession, facilitated by credentialed Art Therapists and/or graduate students under supervision by a credentialed Art Therapist.
The exhibition of masks will be up in the Creative Arts Therapy Gallery until Nov. 30.