By Brian Edsall
Art has been utilized as a means of self-expression and has united people throughout the world by transcending political and cultural borders. Senior Carrie Rapp has used drawing and painting as mediums for this type of self-expression. With her talents, she hopes to change lives—one brush stroke at a time.
Despite her passion, Carrie never declared a major or minor in art. “A lot of people wanted me to guarantee that I would make money and have a job,” said Carrie. “I was told that the arts were not the way to do that.”
Instead, Carrie declared a major in psychology when admitted to Marist. “I found a psychology textbook in high school and I read the entire thing. I became fascinated with how the mind works and how people behave.”
Carrie had not taken an art class until her senior year, as she says she was never extremely confident in her abilities. This all changed when Carrie met Ed Smith, the Steel Plant Art Gallery Director and professor of art at Marist.
“Ed believed in me more than anyone ever had in regard to my art,” Carrie said. “He made a huge impact on my art and on my confidence. I once thought that art should just be a hobby, but he told me I was meant to make it something greater. I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.”
Smith motivated Carrie to pursue her lifelong passion and helped her discover the artist she desires to be. “I’m finally finding my direction,” Carried said. “I don’t want to make pretty paintings. I want to make dark, depressing work that brings light to specific issues.”
“I’m happy I have a background in psychology because it is definitely being shown in my art. It has inspired me to create the paintings that I paint,” Carrie said.
Instead of talking about issues, Carrie decides to turn them into images. She has completed projects on mental illness, addiction, self-harm, the media, and is currently working on a project related to consumerism and materialism. “I want people to think,” Carrie said. “I feel a sense of fulfillment in creating meaningful artwork which has a message behind it.” She hopes that her art can have a powerful effect on people and create positive changes throughout society.
“With my pieces on self-harm, I had students come up to me telling me how they have struggled with self-harm. They thought it was amazing that I was addressing an issue that not many people want to talk about,” Carrie said.
Carrie has used art as her form of therapy throughout her life. Now, she aspires to become an art therapist and hopes that others can benefit from these same therapeutic effects. “Sometimes it’s so hard to talk about feelings and issues,” Carrie said. “Art can be used to get those feelings out without experiencing the discomfort of talking about it.”
For Carrie, art therapy combines her love for both psychology and art. She explains how art can help with diagnosing individuals. For example, when patients create their own work, analyzing the colors which are used, or even the manner in which the picture is drawn, can be extremely important in coming up with solutions.
Carrie has interned with drug addicts and witnessed the beneficial effects that art has on their recovery at the Lexington Center of Recovery, located in Poughkeepsie. “Initially, many patients thought the program was stupid and a waste of time,” Carrie said. “A few weeks later their attitudes completely changed. They were proud of their accomplishments, and they had the opportunity to talk about how the art made them feel.”
Carrie studied abroad in Ireland and fell in love with the country and culture. “It was the first time I had ever left the United States, but Ireland felt like home to me. I made some of the best friends there. It was definitely the best experience I have ever had.” She has since been accepted into the Cork Institute of Technology in Cork, Ireland where she will pursue a master’s degree in art therapy. “I want to use my gifts to change people’s lives, even if it’s one person at a time. I want to wake up every day knowing that I will make a difference in the world,” Carrie said.