June 04, 2024

Art Therapy Graduates Recognized for Excellence

Three newly graduated art therapy students received special awards from the program honoring their mission-driven work or their contribution to expanding the field of art therapy through research.

The Art Therapy Program is proud to announce the 2024 recipients of three art therapy special awards for graduating students.

Two mission-focused awards align with the graduate school’s values of equity, access, and social justice, while the third honors its recipient’s contributions to expanding the field of art therapy through research. Students in their final year of the program are eligible to receive an award.

Liberatory Community Engagement Award

Ruxy Lazarescu is the 2024 recipient of the art therapy Liberatory Community Engagement award.

Maria “Ruxy” Lazarescu

The Liberatory Community Engagement Award goes to an art therapy graduate who demonstrates cultural humility and a commitment to liberatory principles that move away from the oppressive triangle of hierarchy to the circle of human connection.

This year’s awardee is Maria “Ruxy” Lazarescu. Ruxy exemplifies liberatory practices through her lived experience and innovative approach to art therapy, both in the classroom and clinical settings. She fostered relationships and connections with participants during her final year by adeptly navigating the systems of oppression in the United States mental health care system. Her curiosity led her to explore novel methods of clinical documentation, using visual art and poetry to highlight the humanity of the participants. Demonstrating a strong sense of community and collaboration, Ruxy consistently applied this approach throughout her academic career with peers, faculty, and supervisors, exemplifying cultural humility and human connection.

To learn more about Ruxy’s work, visit her capstone gallery: Healing, Connection and Liberation - Art and Poetry Responses as Psychotherapy Notes.

Commitment to Equity and Access Award

Kali Doubledee is the recipient of the Commitment to Equity and Access award.

Kali Doubledee

The Commitment to Equity and Access Award goes to an art therapy graduate who demonstrates a commitment to service, disrupts societal norms or barriers, and provides pathways for access and equity-based practices in communities.

This year’s awardee is Kali Doubledee. Kali has gone above and beyond in her advocacy, collaborating with other Deaf Art therapists in the country and co-presenting their work at the National Art Therapy Conference in San Diego in Fall 2023. Her work was exceptional due to its exploration of a critically under-researched topic in Art Therapy: the accessibility and dynamics of therapy involving Deaf therapists and interpreters. Kali’s insights into the challenges and nuances of working with a Deaf therapist illuminated significant gaps in academic literature and clinical practice. Her thorough, engaging presentation not only highlighted the complex interplay between therapist, client, and interpreter, but also underscored the importance of inclusivity and adaptability in therapeutic settings. Kali’s resilience and dedication, despite personal challenges, inspired admiration and provided a powerful example of professional excellence. The presentation’s impact was further enhanced by its practical relevance and the thoughtful integration of graphic medicine, making it a valuable reference for future practitioners.

To learn more about Kali’s work, visit her capstone gallery: Interpreters in Art Therapy: A Heuristic Exploration. 

Art Therapy Research Award

Kate Feddersen is the recipient of the Art Therapy Research award.

Kate Feddersen

The Art Therapy Research Award goes to a master of science in art therapy graduate who contributes an innovative thesis to the body of literature that expands awareness and generates knowledge to further the practice of the art therapy profession.

This year’s awardee is Kate Feddersen. Kate is an incredibly organized and meticulous student who has collaborated with Art Therapy Program Director and Professor Mary Andrus on designing and facilitating a mixed methods research project. It included a team of paid graduate assistants, outside consultation with CADES statistics lab at PSU, consultation with outside neuroscientists, and many hours of data analysis. The design includes bio data in the form of saliva samples to measure cortisol, heart rate data, artwork, and much more. It is a collaborative interdisciplinary team effort that aims to raise awareness of the impact of art making on the nervous system. This pilot study was awarded a total of $10,000 grant monies and was accepted for a presentation at the 2024 National Art Therapy Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

Kate’s thesis is entitled Art-Making on the Nervous System: A Mixed Methods Study.