Since becoming a registered art therapist in 1987, she has hosted a variety of workshops and researched art therapy for children in pediatric oncology units and patients who are terminally ill.
Knowing the importance of art in life, especially in the lives of children, she organized efforts to donate more than 150 boxes of art supplies and 75 boxes of craft supplies to communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s when she founded Art on Wheels-Missouri, which later came to the aid of the community of Joplin — where Fowler raised her family — after the town was ravaged by a tornado in May 2011.
“When we worked with the kids after the Joplin tornado, we’d often have a group process where we’d all draw people…and we did look at how they responded,” she said. “When I saw the children’s work, I could tell by the colors they use, by the way they worked … and what they omit, what they were experiencing.”
When they see work with hard scribbling, torn-apart imagery and/or the use of dark colors, a therapist might deduce that a child was experiencing anxiety, Fowler said. One common theme children drew after the tornado was butterflies. Although no one can be sure why these showed up in so many drawings in the aftermath, it is an area that has intrigued Fowler and she plans to do further research.