I want to be an artist, specifically an art therapist

I want to be an artist, specifically an art therapist because it combines my two greatest passions: the arts, and helping others.

My freshman year of high school, I was set on going to art school after graduating so I could become an animator. Said years was also when I first heard about art therapy, and the GWU Art Therapy Clinic through one of my closest friends. Flash forward to the end of my junior year, I was reevaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and with my newfound interest in psychology, I wanted to become an art therapist myself. Thus I sought services from the clinic my senior year so I could learn more about thetherapeutic process.

Art therapy not only helped with my self-expression, but regulating my emotions. Life transitions are my greatest vice as someone on the Autism Spectrum, but the safe space that was the clinic helped me feel validated and therefore work through those feelings with various mediums, sand being my favorite.

The artists, or works that I admire are those that capture disability justice, specifically those by Sir Anthony James “Tony” Heaton, a British sculptor and prominent figure in the Disability Arts Movement. His best known installations are, “Great Britain from a Wheelchair (1994),” which depicts a map of the United Kingdom using one NHS wheelchair, and “Gold Lamé,” which depicts an Invacar, or specialized vehicle for wheelchair users. What I admire most about Heaton’s work are how he used humor as a coping mechanism as a survivor of life changing injuries, giving it a therapeutic quality that is resemblant of art therapy practices.

The challenges I face as an artist with a disability is expressing thoughts and feelings through spoken word, which is hard for most, if not all individuals on the spectrum. However, art gave me a voice, and combined with therapy, the voice became even louder. For my cobweb of unresolved emotions was swept away, then intertwined into an elegant spider web of interconnecting thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

What I hope to accomplish as an aspiring art therapist is that I serve my clients with the same level of respect the student interns at GWU gave me in the clinic with my duty of care.

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