A.J. Winchester, M.Ed.
I live in an old farm house which is my studio. It was a lumber camp in the 1800's. I am surrounded by large oak trees and wetlands which attracts migratory birds and wildlife of all kinds. Just this week I saw a bald eagle and that's a real treat her in Michigan.
I have two dogs, Charlie is a mix poodle and Chealse, a yellow lab. I have an tiger cat, Princess, that sleeps on my computer. I have Indian Runner ducks and one muscovey who is "meaner than a junk yard dog". Last summer I saw him chase a coyote. I'm his greatest fan even though others find him rather ugly because he has large red growths all over his head, which is typical of muscovey ducks.
I have attended many colleges and universities because I never seem feel I have enough knowledge. My notebooks are filled with sketches I made during these studies. I have a B.A. degree in psychology from the university of Michigan and I completed a master's degree in art therapy and education from Wayne State University. While earning my master's degree i completed internships at the University of Michigan Communicative Disorder Clinic where I conducted art therapy with people who had strokes or brain injuries. We worked mostly with acrylics and completed paintings to display at the closure of their six-weeks of therapy. It was great fun and I loved working with people from all over the united States. I worked with a physician from Boston, a history professor from Dallas and a lawyer from Sacramento. The UofM program is known for their positive results. I then completed an internship at Arbor Hospice in the Art from The Heart program. I used digital photography with the groups of young people who had suffered a loss of a loved one. The digital prints were turned into books they could take with them.
I have been an artist all my life and I love doing art stuff with people. I have seen how art therapy helps people communicate, helps them develop and build self-esteem, helps them focus on positive events in their lives and they have something to show for their efforts in therapy. Art expression is not a linear process and need not obey the rules of language (i.e. syntax, grammar. spelling) therefore art can express complexities simultaneously. Harriet Wadeson, famous art therapist, call this art's apatial matrix: the ability of art to communicate relationships using shapes, color, and line. Art therapy can be helpful in releasing emotions.