Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09
Mentor: Christopher Engel
Title: The Power of Art: The Journey of Self Discovery
Description: My Senior Project consisted of two parts. In July I traveled to Zanzibar, Tanzania
where I worked with an organization called African Impact. There I set up
a series of art project that I did with the children from a local nursery
school. After my two-week stay of observing them I traveled back home. I then
wrote a paper on Art Therapy and the benefits of children expressing themselves
through art In my paper I included my personal experience as well as interviews
from local art therapists and the general research of the field. I presented my
paper in the form of a book that I designed myself using a program called BookSmart. I complimented it with the images from Tanzania taken
by myself, Veronica Montemarano and Taylor Montemarano.
Sample Pages (p. 15, p.
22, p. 28)
The idea behind my Senior Project began
shortly after I traveled to Mozambique
for M-term in March 2008. It was that trip that inspired me so much that I
wanted to return to Africa as soon as
possible. After much begging and pleading Taylor Monte and her mom Ronni planned to go back to Tanzania in July 2008. Knowing that
I would be working with children in an undersupplied nursery school I wanted to
bring something I could do with the children that they had not been previously
exposed to. ThatŐs when I had the idea of bringing specific art projects for
each day that I could do with them. I knew that all mediums such as paints,
crayons, and glue, would all be materials that they had never had any contact
with, so observing the as they expressed themselves in this new way seemed like
a interested idea to me. I then had the idea of educating myself in the field
of Art Therapy and the benefits of children expressing themselves through art.
Originally I thought I would bring the artwork back from Africa
and curate and exhibit a show of their work. I had to raise money for my trip
so I sent out a letter to my friends and family explaining what I was doing and
asking for donations which was a complete success. I raised enough money to pay
for the majority of my trip and buy supplies.
The trip could not have gone any smoother.
We spent our too short, two weeks in Zanzibar,
which was honestly the most beautiful place I had ever traveled to. Working
with the children however brought some challenges for me. The language barrier
was one of my main struggles. With the children only speaking Swahili and not
having sufficient English I had to explain all my projects through example.
Also working with children ages 4-7 was sometimes difficult. Their small
attention spans and lack of interest sometimes left me with only a few doing my
planed activities and others just running around. Time was also a challenge I
had to overcome while in Zanzibar
since I was only to be there for two weeks. I could hence not always set up a
project for each class or didnŐt have enough time to finish a project in one
When I got back from Africa I had some changes
to make to my senior project. While there the children had asked me if they
could keep their work, so I of course said yes, but then didnŐt have anything
to exhibit when I got home. ThatŐs when I was suggested the idea of making a
book in which I would include photographs from my trip and my paper on Art
Therapy, its benefits with children, and my experience of working with the
children I did in Africa. With Mr. Chris as my mentor, he helped me find my two
outside consultants: Sue Lichtenstein and Dennis Gaboury.
Sue is a local art therapist who had worked with children for years and was
extremely helpful in giving me sources and sharing her experiences with working
with children. Dennis is the founder of ZimKids an organization in Zimbabwe, which teaches orphans how
to create dolls that they can later sell for the supplies, which they need.
Dennis was extremely helpful since he understood what it was like to work with
underprivileged kids and how internally fulfilling it can be. Next I had to
work on writing my paper and editing my photos for the book. With help from
Kerry Sharkey-Miller I was able to acquire the skills needed to use Adobe
Photoshop and color correct each image. Next I had to become familiar with
BlurbŐs BookSmart software which was what I would be
using to layout my book. I ordered my first book on December 5th that
only contained pictures so I could make sure the color profile was the correct
More challenges arose with working with BookSmart. Every five minutes the program would
unexpectedly quit. Most of the time it would auto-save, but sometimes it wouldnŐt
and I would have to go back and re-add photos or edit text. Another challenge
was reaching my outside consultants. Sue had a busy schedule between seeing
patients and being with family, and having to e-mail Dennis in Zimbabwe meant
that not all e-mails went through. My last challenge was time management. Even
thought I told myself I would get everything done early and finish my Senior
Project with time to spare, I didnŐt. Although I made all my deadlines and was
on time with blogging, I still ended up writing the
majority of my paper over winter break. I then had to worry about getting my
book in time for the gallery opening, which I luckily did.
My future plans are still to be determined.
Although I donŐt think I will go to college to study Art Therapy I am not
considering it as a possible minor. I think the knowledge gained from learning
about it could help me in the future if I decide to continue working with kids.
I want to return to Africa and soon as
possible and imagine myself doing so everyday. Perhaps I could study there for
a semester during college. I want to continue volunteering and doing humanity
work as well; it will always remain hobby for me. This project was an amazing
experience for me in so many ways. I got to incorporate something I love to do
with a new field that I had previously known nothing about. I also learned that
I could master new programs, edit digital photographs, and design appealing
book layouts. Although grueling at times, this project was very fun for me and
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I want to thank Chris Engel for being such a
great mentor, he kept me motivated and dealt with my
occasional laziness. I also want to thank Devon Parkes,
Kerry Sharkey-Miller, Sue Lichtenstein, Dennis Gaboury
and Jen Cross for their help and input on my project. Thanks to Mom and Dad for
letting this all happen, and Taylor and Ronni Monte
for being my co-travelers and understanding the experience of Tanzania like
no one else. Lastly I want to thank Ross
School for giving me firstly my chance
to go to Mozambique
and secondly for letting students engage in such educational experiences.
American Art Therapy Association: Welcome
to The American Art Therapy Association. 03 Nov.
Bettes, Donna. Art Therapy.
03 Feb. 2009 <http://www.art-therapy.us/>.
Junge, Maxine B., and Paige P. Asawa. A History of Art Therapy in the United States.
American Art Therapy Association, 1994.
Landgarten, Helen B. Clinical
Art Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide.
McNiff, Shawn. Art as
Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1992.
Naumburg, M. (1966). Dynamically oriented art
therapy: Its principles and practice. New York, NY:
Grune & Stratton. [Reprinted in
1987. Chicago, IL: Magnolia Street]
Rose, Margery D. Childhood Revealed: Art Expressing Pain, Discovery &
Hope. New York:
Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 1999.
Volunteer in Africa -
Volunteer Work in Africa - Gap Year Africa
Volunteering. 03 Nov. 2008 <http://www.africanimpact.com/>.
Community Member (Details)
My outside consultants were Sue Lichtenstein
and Dennis Gaboury. Sue is a local art therapist and
met with me to discuss how she works with her patients and how she feels art
therapy is beneficial to children. She also provided me with many of the
sources I used for my paper. Dennis is the founder of ZimKids.
This foundation, located in Zimbabwe,
works with orphaned children and teaches them how to make dolls, which are then
sold and used to buy necessary supplies for the children.