The American Art Therapy Association’s 45th annual conference (2012) was held in San Antonio, Texas.
As a budding art therapist, I decided to take the opportunity to attend my first official art therapy conference, located an hour and half from where I lived in Austin, Texas.
In retrospect, I am amazed at how much change art therapy has brought to my life. I feel like Alice in Wonderland; I fell down the rabbit hole and there’s no looking back.
I attended a presentation given by David Gussak, which was about his book Art on Trial. Gussak shared a compelling story about a precedent setting trial that was the first to have an art therapist as an expert witness.
Attending Gussak’s presentation gave me an idea of a possible of a career path I could take: forensic art therapy. Each speaker inspired ideas for the future. Another area of interest I was drawn to is international art therapy since learning about SWC’s program in Peru. I made it a point to attend a few of these sessions and connect with art therapists who have been abroad.
One video presentation touched me greatly. A local Austin art therapist, Wanda Montemayor showed a video about a community art project she completed. She, along with the help of other local artists, created a mural at Deep Eddy pool, a historically significant pool in Austin. I truly felt blessed that I was able to work with such an inspiring woman that summer during a children’s summer camp and gain some of my initial art therapy experience.
In addition, at the conference I had the opportunity to network with professors, staff, and current students from Southwestern. Although I came to the conference by myself and I hadn’t yet taken my first class, I was already bonding with the Southwestern community. We even went out dancing on the final night.
I was invited to a happy hour one evening and the conversation delved into topics such as bra burning, birth charts, chakras, love, and spirituality. I was able to share my process of choosing schools, from strongly considering New York City programs, to my extensive research into California schools. Somehow, despite the cross-country search, I would always come back to Southwestern.
I was able get an insider’s perspective about SWC’s Wilderness Fast. Even though the idea of going without food for three days seemed daunting (I hardly miss a meal), it seemed like the kind of reset I wanted to embark upon for my physical and mental well-being.
“You will make so much art,” said one Southwestern student at the conference, which almost felt like sanctification. Even though I have cherished my time in Austin, I realize that I couldn’t wait to arrive in Santa Fe, create my own art, and begin my own spiritual quest.