Merilyn M. Field, who led Converse College’s Art Therapy program from 1999-2007, passed away March 6 after a long struggle with lung cancer.
She is survived by a beloved husband of 50 years, Robert Clark Field, and the families of her two daughters: Heather and Vince Benedetti, grandchildren Clark, Katelyn, Eli and Susanna Benedetti; Lauren and Stan Halbkat, and grandchildren, Allington and Robert Halbkat.
No funeral services are planned. A gathering of family and friends will be held at a future date to celebrate her life. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glen Drive, Columbus, North Carolina 28722.
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Merilyn received a Registered X-Ray Technician diploma, and spent the early years of her life as a wife and mother. She first became interested in art therapy while as a student at Converse in 1992. “My major was psychology and I had a strong desire to help people,” she said in the summer 2007 edition of the Converse Bulletin. “I attended a workshop given by an art therapist, and saw that it was the ideal combination of psychology and art. Helping people to express feelings, explore problems and communicate with each other through art is perhaps the best way to describe art therapy.”
Merilyn later earned her Master of Arts in Art Therapy from Norwich University of Vermont. Her graduate study focused on the use of art therapy in psychiatric population.
She practiced art therapy in behavioral health service facilities before returning to Converse in 1999 to lead its Art Therapy program, the only undergraduate art therapy program in the Southeast. She would serve as director of the program until her retirement in 2007. Her enthusiasm for the many facets of art therapy was evident in her work with students and community groups, and her wide range of contacts with health care professionals allowed her students the opportunity to work with such diverse populations as emotionally handicapped students, developmentally delayed students, children and adolescents at risk, Alzheimer’s patients, cancer survivor groups and the chronically mentally ill.
She was a member of the American Art Therapy Association, the National Coalition of Art Therapy Educators, and the President of the South Carolina Art Therapy Association. She curated art shows displaying art work of Alzheimer’s, geriatrics, cancer patients and dream work of college students. She also exhibited her own style of using art to grieving individually and collectively.