A collection of mandalas created by Converse students and faculty will be on display as part of the exhibition Circles of Hope and Healing: Art Therapy in South Carolina, sponsored by the South Carolina Art Therapy Association, at Columbia College Goodall Gallery in Columbia, SC from Jan. 16 – Feb. 15. A breakfast reception and gallery talk will be held Feb. 3 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at the gallery in conjunction with South Carolina Arts Advocacy Day. The Converse College Art Therapy Program is directed by Geri Hurlbut, MA, ATR-BC.
Converse College students, interns and faculty worked with South Carolina Art Therapy Association to create the mandalas between 2002 and 2014. Some of the panels were created in response to working with vulnerable populations, and some were created with individuals currently attending art groups with interns. One image is a memorial mandala in honor of Merilyn Field, long time Director of the Converse College Art Therapy Program, who died in 2009. Converse art therapy students have participated in internships at McCarthy Teszler School, The School for the Deaf and Blind, Charles Lea Center, New Day Clubhouse, Park Place Assisted Living, Eden Terrace Assisted Living, Greenville Mental Health, Greenville Hospital System and the Gibbs Cancer Center at Spartanburg Regional Hospital, among others.
Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy practice requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.
Credentialed Art Therapists will have earned a minimum of a Master’s level degree and completed the requisite number of supervised internship hours. Converse College art therapy students continue their studies at a variety of graduate programs including Florida State University, Southwestern College, Lesley University, George Washington University, Ursuline and University of Kentucky-Louisville. Many are now working in a variety of settings around the country with individuals who have special needs, at such locations as behavioral health clinics, homeless shelters, schools, hospitals and addiction recovery centers, among others.