Maci Kociszewski ’16 has always loved to create. Majoring in Studio Art then seems like common sense and her minor in psychology is the perfect balance as she begins to look for graduate schools to pursue her goal of becoming an art therapist. If she had any doubts about that path, her decision was cemented last summer when she worked as an art therapist at a camp for grieving adolescents — youth aged 12 to 16 years who had lost a loved one.
Although the experience was relatively brief, in that week, she helped the youngsters make an envelope book, in which they could then put pictures, clippings and other memorabilia about the person they had lost. Then they created a special cover for the book.
“Their memorial journals helped break the ice between them as a group,” remembers Kociszewski. “Then they kept it going on their own. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it moved me more than just about anything.”
Kociszewski enjoys painting in oils and creating 3-D objects that engage the imagination. In the Art by Heart course, taught by adjunct professor Andrea O’Driscoll '97, students study art and artifacts from diverse cultures from around the world and then make their own piece of art that expresses their unique life experience. For her project, Kociszewski created a mask similar to those worn during the middle ages by doctors treating the plague. The bottoms of two plastic cups became its glasses, along with a piece of an old leather belt. Foil formed the nose, and manila folders, the hat. Much of the mask was then coated with Rigid Wrap, similar to a casting material that can be formed like clay when wet.
“The arts curriculum exposes students to diverse cultures and encourages them to experiment with media and techniques to develop their own expressive language,” says O’Driscoll. “Maci did a wonderful job by having a vision and in thinking creatively along each step of the design, ending up with a wonderful piece of art,” she adds.
Kociszewski presented her mask at the honors conference at Gwynedd Mercy College last year and earned positive feedback. “Even the dean liked it,” she says. “I love hearing that from non-professionals (artists),” she adds. “It’s just so heartwarming.”
For her honors project, Kociszewski will illustrate a children’s book based on Sister Carol Vale’s Labrador retrievers, Griffin and Kostka, written by Krista Bailey Murphy, dean of student life. Her goal is to have it completed and for sale in the College bookstore within two years.