She sits in a pink sundress, basking in the sunlight, with sunglasses covering her eyes. Her earrings dangle at about the same length as her cropped blonde hair. On her hand is a flowery ring. Showing her artistic sense in her dress, she appears both confident and relaxed. Meet Megan FitzGerald, a junior art therapy student.
FitzGerald began her education at PUC as a photography major then switched to graphic design but always had an interest in psychology. She was unsure what to do with her interest in psychology.
Amy Cronk, instructor of visual art, introduced her to the art therapy program during her sophomore year. Once she learned about the program, FitzGerald thought, “This is perfect. It combines both things that I’m super interested in pursuing in my life and it was just like, this is it. That’s what I want to do.”
Art therapy is a pre-professional program, not a major. “I am a fine arts major, but being in the art therapy program, I am also taking psychology classes as well,” FitzGerald explains. “I know there are other people who do it the opposite way. They do the psychology major with limited fine arts. I’m doing the fine arts major with limited psychology.”
There are many uses for art therapy for patients who have experienced traumatic experiences and are unable or unwilling to express themselves in other therapeutic ways. “It’s implementing art as a way for clients to express themselves without actually having to talk about it, because it’s really hard for some people,” FitzGerald says. “It’s a stimulant for their brains as well as giving them therapy.”
Veterans homes, mental hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers and medical hospitals are some of the places that use art therapists for patients in critical condition.
After she graduates, FitzGerald plans to attend graduate school for two years to continue her education in art therapy. “I’ve been looking into the Chicago Art Institute,” she says. “Both of my cousins went there and my family lives out there, so it would be a perfect match for me, but also I love Northern California. So maybe San Francisco or something?”
Although she has always loved painting and art, she submitted her art for the first time to the Student Art Show in April. “I did a watercolor painting called ‘Bewitched’ of Elizabeth Montgomery and I did three little ceramic skulls with mo ustaches.” She finds ceramics more difficult than painting, but she says, “I was really proud of them because they’re funny!” She was also depicted as the model in a number of photography pieces by Neil Philip Soiland at the show.
For her future as an art therapist, FitzGerald says, “I would love it if I could change a life. That makes a huge difference, even just one. I just want to give people an outlet, because some people have these feelings inside and maybe they don’t have anyway to express it. This will give them a way to express it.”