We recently learned that VCS senior Jessica Kennedy has been accepted into SVA’s Master of Professional Studies Art Therapy program, which she will enter at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year. Here’s a short text that Jessica wrote for us about herself and her decision to pursue a career in art therapy:
As a teenager, I experienced more than the average angst due to environmental stressors. Finding myself in an extreme emotional upset coupled with an animalistic need to rectify it, I discovered a way of tangibly expressing and diminishing these overwhelming emotional responses through making collages. To make these collages, I cut out images from magazines and incorporated my own written text with them.
After a short period of time in making these collages, I found myself searching for specific images I could not find in the magazines. Here I turned to the Internet, which only quenched my specific image needs for so long. I then began photographing the images myself which introduced me to my love of photography and more traditionally accepted art forms.
I used art as my catharsis, a healthy coping mechanism. This came despite the fact that I had never been formally taught in an art class. Finding such pleasure in making art when it came time to go to college, I decided to attend SVA for my undergraduate degree. Here I was not only taught formally about the mediums, but for the first time I was also given knowledge of conceptual ideas in art, the history of art, as well as the art world at large. With the support of SVA, I started producing more refined artworks that were more introspective than what I had been previously making; through this process my self-awareness also became increasingly heightened.
Recently, I’ve produced artworks about abusive relationships and the death of a loved one. At the last two gallery openings where my work was displayed, I had multiple people cry to me and confide in me their stories about the subjects my artworks are about. While I create my art as a way to express my emotions, I also produce it with the intention for it to produce a safe space for dialog as well as a comforting feeling of universality and understanding surrounding upsetting and alienating experiences or subjects. I had stopped making art just for my own emotional needs, but as a way to connect and help others. I realized that I did not want to pursue artmaking as a career and get lost in the politics of the art world as well as producing art for commercial reasons to sustain myself financially. I wanted to help people with art. I knew that if I could help people with art the same way art helps me when I’m feeling blue, my life would be fulfilled.
Upon this realization, I knew the only career choice for me was to become an art therapist. When looking into the different graduate programs, SVA’s was of course the best. I have already found a family and home in the VCS department at SVA, and I knew I’d find the same lovely place in the Art Therapy Masters department as well. So my only application went out to SVA, and I’m delighted to say that I have received my acceptance letter saying that I was one of an elite few selected, and saying they are sure I will be a great contributor! I’m humbled and honored to be starting this next chapter at the school I already know and love. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for the support system that is VCS for helping me immense amounts in order for me to get to this point!