School of Creative

Shirly Zhu Xueyin

Shirly Zhu Xueyin

MA Art Therapy
Class of 2022

Shirly has spent years living in Shanghai, across Canada, and most recently in Singapore. Having studied economics in university and worked in commercial settings, she has found that her life always directs her back to pursuing art, and the exploration of emotional and psychological well-being.

Professionally trained as a multimedia artist at Queen’s University in Canada, her artworks are largely about one’s inner world, and its connection and tension with the outer world. She is passionate about advocating for vulnerable groups in society. Her experience in both Eastern and Western countries has intensified her cultural sensitivity and understanding.

Using art as a means to build a therapeutic space and provide support for those in need is a dream come true for her. In her clinical placement, she has worked with young adults with mental health issues, and primary school-aged children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


My Gaze, Your Gaze
Mixed media installation
Colour video. Loop.
3:40 mins

My Gaze, Your Gaze is an interactive installation. The mirror is the key element of the artwork that is both put on physical display and filmed throughout the unnarrated video component. The installation explores the impact of gaze in one’s everyday life and its intimate relation to one’s psychological being. It challenges the audience to reflect on multiple layers of self-perception and others’ perception.

The artist explores the constant negotiation and interplay between the subject and the object, the watcher and the watched, the internal and the external, the private and the public, and their boundaries in between. The artist invites the audience to examine the unspoken and the ambiguous, as well as their own personal responses to the aforementioned conflicts.

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Thesis abstract

Adapting to arising needs: A qualitative inquiry of online art therapy-informed workshops with college students in Singapore in the midst of COVID-19

This qualitative, practitioner-based thesis examines an art therapy trainee's experience of clinical placement disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. As a result, she made suitable adaptations by exploring the opportunity to conduct online art therapy-informed workshops for college students. The researcher used an action-based approach in adapting workshop formats and an art-based approach to analyse her response art in the process, reflecting a personal adaptation of her conception of art therapy practice. The study illuminated the possible neglect of an art therapy practitioner’s subjective wellbeing and the significance of keeping both a reflective and a reflexive practice in professional art therapy work. It was also within the researcher’s scope to develop and evaluate the efficacy of online art therapy-informed workshops, with the results indicating both the strengths and weaknesses of the practice format.

Clinical internship

Jan–May 2021
Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
Art therapist trainee
● Led individual art therapy, group art therapy, and art experiential workshops for young adults with mental health issues, working concurrently with the multidisciplinary team.
● Collaborated with National Gallery Singapore and conducted a series of art tours and workshops for beneficiaries at the Gallery.

Aug 2021–May 2022
Primary education institute
Art therapist trainee
● Conducted individual art therapy for students aged 7–12 with special needs.
● Conducted art therapy-informed group activities for class.
● Delivered weekly art therapy programmes for children at risk.