School of Creative

Dawn Kwan

Dawn Kwan

MA Art Therapy
Class 0f 2022

Dawn is a Singaporean painter and sculptor. She has completed over 400 paintings and held nine major solo art exhibitions in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board in Beijing, The American Club, Spanish Tourism Office and Swiss Embassy.

Dawn works closely with several charities for the underprivileged. She has auctioned her artworks and raised over S$400,000 for various charities including: Vietnam Outreach, The New Charis Mission, National Cancer Institute, Heart Foundation, Kidney Dialysis Foundation and AWWA.

As an art therapist, Dawn’s passion lies in working in women’s empowerment and addiction rehabilitation from an insight-oriented, psychodynamic approach.


Emergence & Eclipse
Mixed media
Dimensions variable

In Lewis Carrol’s novel Alice in Wonderland, Alice has a curious encounter with a caterpillar who asks her, “Who are you?”. Alice replies rather shyly, “I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then."

Carrol emboldens the readers to observe our inner and outer worlds with the same sense of curiosity and acceptance of change. Dawn is inspired by her recent hobby of rearing tawny coster caterpillars to weave her own chrysalis. Her work, Emergence & Eclipse, is a pair of fibre sculptures that challenges a binary way of perceiving life.

Rather than focusing on either extremely blissful or despairing moments, this pair of chrysalides reminds the viewer to sit with uncertainty and inertia. During pupation, a caterpillar releases digestive enzymes which disintegrate its tissues before reassembling itself and forming the features of a butterfly. This symbol of rebirth reminds the audience to live through the questions before finding the answers; to experience life in its full spectrum and honour the uncomfortable in-betweens.

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Thesis abstract

Personas in recovery: A qualitative inquiry into individual art therapy within an outpatient addictions programme in Singapore

This qualitative, practitioner-based research aims to uncover the role of art therapy in an outpatient addictions rehabilitation centre in Singapore. Addiction is often overlooked and presumed to be a choice, rarely understood within its related traumatic psychosocial contexts. This paper provides four multiple-case vignettes that delve into the ways that art can be used as a modality to facilitate meaning-making and identity transformation of clients in addiction recovery; as identity change is key in addressing interpersonal trauma for a successful recovery. The study focuses on the different aspects of the psyche that are embodied in the artwork and how clients relate to these personae. The embodiment of personas in the artwork provides a path for clients to step into a further understanding of themselves, descending into their inner world to discover the black sheep, the rejected self, the lost one and the fearful one, to name a few. The role of art therapy in addictions recovery can foster identity transformation through the symbolism, integration, release and reconciliation of various personae, where we step into a space of identity transformation with the potential to release an enmeshed part of ourselves that is unhealthy, or to reclaim a once-separated person who can provide reconciliation and peace.

Clinical internship

Jan–May 2021
Project X
Art therapist trainee
Conducted individual art therapy, group art therapy sessions and art therapy workshops for adults aged 19–60.

Aug 2021–May 2022
The Cabin Singapore
Art therapist trainee
Conducted individual art therapy, art therapy workshops and group art therapy sessions for adults aged 19–60.