October 24, 2019 | By Marissa Marie Uher
Tell us about yourself
I am currently in my second year of the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) Art Therapy and Counseling, MS program with specializations in medical art therapy and trauma informed art therapy. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Visual Studies with a minor in Psychology from Temple University, Tyler School of Art in order to obtain. I enjoy volunteering in international countries in order to spread awareness of art therapy and positive well-being. I primarily enjoy working with natural materials to document locations through weavings.
What excites (or inspires) you most about your studies right now?
I am excited to expand the field of art therapy by increasing awareness of the psychological benefits as well as participating in research about the benefits of frame-loom weaving.
Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? What have you learned from working with these clients?
My internships in a trauma unit and children’s hospital have allowed me to understand the importance of choice and positivity within the medical setting. I have learned to create a safe space in various locations within the hospital in order to develop the therapeutic relationship. I have also learned to increase my knowledge about various media in order to provide choice and adaptability for any patient’s needs.
“Documentation of Inspiration” by Marissa Uher. Sheep wool, bamboo, and driftwood. May 2019.
Artist’s statement: The weaving represents the development of my artist and therapist identity by using natural materials from two locations which influenced my growth. My artistic interest started to emerge while attending high school in Pennsylvania, where I was able to create a collection of paintings inspired by human animalistic behaviors. I used my paintings as a self-meditative technique in overcoming my own internal struggles.
My interest in the effect of the creative process on mental health emerged and I pursued mu educational career in art therapy. After my introduction to the Ngwane culture, I found a new internal sense of control through the unmediated method of weaving. My personal beliefs and preferences related to the creative process align with the Gestalt theoretical approach. The weaving process allows me to focus on the environmental sensations and current thought processes. My therapeutic work with patients typically provides individuals with the focus on the here-and-now. The development of coping skills through self-meditation has increased my awareness of self and provided me with the opportunity to increase internal sensations of peace.
The sheep wool is from a local farm near my hometown in Pennsylvania, while the bamboo and driftwood are foraged from the seawall in Virginia where I allow time for self-care. The collection of materials allowed me to become grounded within the natural environment and appreciate the sensations of the location. My artist identity started to develop in Pennsylvania while my therapist identity started to develop in Virginia. This artwork showcases the two locations that have heavily influenced my artist-therapist identity. I associate internal growth with the environment in which it took place; therefore, I documented my artist-therapist development through its influential locations.