BEVERLY — Denise Malis was in her 30s when she decided to pursue a career in art therapy. She soon realized she’d have to go back to school for a master’s degree.
“I had a child,” said Malis. “but I thought, ‘OK, this is really what I want to do.’”
After earning that degree and working in the field, she is now a professor of creative art therapy at Endicott College in Beverly, where she has organized an exhibit called “Art As A Gift: The Artist Voice of Studio Art Therapy.” It serves, she says, as both a unique aesthetic experience and a platform for understanding art therapy.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m., she will host a reception in the Endicott gallery where the public can meet the 10 artists in the exhibit. Malis and other artists will also present a lecture entitled, “The Creative Voice,” Friday, Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. in the Endicott gallery. Both events are free and open to the public.
Though art therapy is a growing field, Malis said it is often misunderstood.
“People always make assumptions about the people you work with and places you go, so you have to become an ambassador for the profession,” she said.
Part of that process is helping people understand what art therapy is, which she defines as, “inviting people to engage with their natural right to creative expression.”
Asaki Nishiyama, a junior creative art therapy major and president of the art therapy club at Endicott, said she is looking forward to the events because, “creative therapy’s philosophy is one with great potential to heal the many wounds that exist in this world.”
The exhibit, in the Spencer Presentation Gallery, runs through March 15.