As a Senior BFA candidate for Visual Arts in Ceramics and a member of the Spring CSArt Team, I was able to travel with other ceramics students and faculty to represent our program at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts in Minneapolis at the end of March.
At the conference I had the chance to represent Clemson and our community share program in the exhibition hall. When I wasn't working the CSArt table, I had the chance to attend different lectures. I am passionate about clay and art as therapy and was fortunate enough to attend two lectures regarding these topics.
The first lecture I attended about therapy was a talk by Cynthia O'Brien who spoke about her work with people in Long Term Care. Cynthia works with men and women who live at Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in Ottawa, Canada. This long term care facility has begun to incorporate art and a clay practice into the lives of the residents. What stood out most to me about this lecture was the relationships that Cynthia had built and maintained with each individual resident. She was personally close to each of them and art is what brought them together. Not only did practicing art lead to new relationships for these residents but it improved their quality of life by giving them something to be proud of.
The second lecture I attended was regarding art with the Deaf and Blind. Elizabeth Cohen participated in a pilot program of ceramics at the Perkins School for the Blind. This program allowed deafblind students ages 7-22 to work with clay and realize their potential in a meaningful way. This program was interesting as there are only a very small percentage of people who are deaf and blind in the world. Additionally it was compelling to learn about how Elizabeth interacted with the students through interpreters and other methods. One of the main things I learned from this lecture is a lot of the interactions are based on intuition and what seems right for each individual student in the moment.
With both of these lectures I learned so much about art therapy and how great an impact it can have on someone's life. Access to art for the mentally or physically handicapped, the young or the elderly can improve and change lives for the better. I believe in this even more so since this conference and I hope to pursue a career in Art therapy in which I can bring healing to people in search of peace.
Spring 2019 CSArt Artist Coordinator