Art Saves

To my dear Referee,

Below is a short story to share my creative journey towards Art Therapy. My intention is that this will help to inspire you into recommending me to the  Expressive Art Therapy Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

My name is Wynne Leung. I am an artist and product designer currently living in San Francisco.

Three years ago at the peek of my design career instead of feeling proud of accomplishments I felt panic from the feeling of not belonging.

I decided to start painting again and through it felt better. I wondered if anyone else felt the need to paint as well? So, I brought my art supplies to work and started to paint and draw with my co-workers.

My friend Ann Liao and I decided to make them into monthly events and called them Sip & Sketch. We held them at a few offices around the city and at the YMCA. Through it I met new friends and felt happy watching people laugh and make art.

In the evenings I took more art classes to explore my creativity. The class that introduced me to art therapy is the Series Class at the California College of Arts taught by Mel Prest.

We were invited to bring any project we wanted to work on for ten weeks.

Images of young girls covered my paintings in blue. They were always in this state of waiting. I felt really curious about this and started to research more on art therapy to try and understand myself through the paintings.

The painting of the three girls appeared and broke my heart, finally.

I finally felt all the anger from my childhood trauma. I didn't know how devastation felt until I actually felt physical pain through my body. I know that those feelings came out because I felt safe and accepted in my evening art classes. Because of them and my artwork my grief was finally set free after thirty years.

Community Integration

Relationships started to feel easier and I felt confident to build my life.

To continue the exploration into art therapy I integrated myself into spaces in the community with components of art therapy hoping to meet people, co-create and build meaningful relationships.

Kids & Arts Foundation
Making art with families with children touched by cancer at UCSF

Creativity Explored
Learned from the artists and facilitators who share their love for the arts with the inspiring artists of Creativity Explored.

DeYoung Museum
Through volunteering I met a group of docents who taught me how to look at art. 

Emerging Arts Professionals
Through the Emerging Arts Fellowship program I connected with group of creative people who create programs and advocate for the arts in the city. I knew very little about the challenges that the arts go through in the city. When I got to learn those challenges I had a strong desire to support them.



Art Residencies

I also participated in two art residencies: one in Iceland called the Saga Residency and another at the Caetani Center in British Columbia. In both experiences I felt  inspired by the artists I shared time with who were all doing work to connect with their community through creativity. In both residencies I participated and facilitated workshops for the community with the artists.

Art Therapy For the Future

I know now that art-making with the support from my community has helped me gain insight into my trauma quicker.  In order to move forward in this exploration into art therapy an education will be my next step. 

I hope that this education will introduce me to people who also believe that art heals. I hope that I get to grow, co-create, research and practice art therapy with them to create meaningful spaces in the future where we can feel safe to express our grief and be free of our suffering.

I hope that you will consider me for the Expressive Art Therapy Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies.


Wynne Leung