“Visual Arts & Health”: a unique course, is back for fall 2019 and taught by MFA candidate and Art Therapist, Kathryn Wingard

June 19 2019

by Anna Oldroyd

Kathryn Wingard is a ceramics MFA candidate within the department of Art & Art History as well as a licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist within the U of U hospital system. This fall, Kathryn Wingard will again be teaching her special topics course, FA 3801 “Visual Arts & Health.” The course offers a unique intersection of visual arts and mental health.

In this combined studio/seminar class, students will be introduced to concepts related to cognitive and psychological elements. These concepts engage the visual arts, with a recurrent subtheme of relationships and empathy. The class will cover the idea of art making and viewing as (potentially) empathetic experiences involving relationships. These relationships include the artist’s relationship with artwork, the viewer’s relationship with the art, and the viewer/artist relationship.

Student Emily Comstock said “Kate’s Visual Arts and Health class was a consciousness-expanding and productively complex course that transformed my thinking about responding to art, art-making, and the nature of my own artistic practice. My experience was defined by a highly supportive and dynamic environment which integrated the very concepts of thinking and engaging with what we learned about.”

Students will produce 2D and 3D art with a variety of materials. They will review cognitive and psychological themes involved in the process of creating, such as the flux between order and chaos, gestalt, goal attainment, conflict resolution, problem solving, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. They will also cover theories about the use of art as coping and art as confrontation. Concepts related to art as a mindfulness tool will be introduced to the artist and the viewer, as well as the somatic, visceral experience of engaging with art.

“This course has been my absolute favorite class,” said Eden Merkley, who was enrolled in last year’s Visual Arts & Health class. “Kate is incredibly student-centered and the material that we cover is interesting since it is widely applicable in the outside world; both personally and as an artist. It taught me how to have an open dialogue with artworks, and to value/see the importance of materials. This has helped me grow as an artist as I'm able to explore my intention for creating pieces.”

The course is open to all students, with or without fine art experience.
Course Catalogue: FA 3801 Special Topics in the Fine Arts; #15546, Sec 001: Visual Arts & Health
Date and Time: T/TH from 3:40-6:40 PM
Room: ART 273
Credits: 3 elective credits (unless approved for substitution of curriculum requirements)