What makes you happy?
Often times, a young person’s hospital stay can be confusing, and so much of what happens with illness and the treatment of it can leave the patient feeling powerless. That’s where art comes in, reaching the part of the patient that still gets to be the decider, creator, inventor. Art With a Heart in Healthcare (AWAHIH) is a non-profit arts-in-healthcare organization providing personal fine art experiences to enhance the healing process for patients and their families. The team of mostly visual artists works primarily with Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Clinic to facilitate art sessions with the young patients, as well as their families. They provide materials, and guidance as needed, in a range of mediums which includes painting, drawing, printmaking, origami, and jewelry.
AWAHIH artists are somewhere in Wolfson Children’s Hospital every day of the week, toting art supplies and ready to create. Most mornings, artists start by going room to room to check in with each patient and invite them to an art session, either in a group in a playroom or one-on-one in their room. Even a child’s rejection of the art session is a welcome opportunity for the patient to exercise their autonomy, but it’s always more fun when they decide to join. For patients who aren’t up for an art session—maybe they’re feeling particularly crummy that day, or maybe they’re about to have a procedure—AWAHIH artists take requests. Patients tell the artists what they’d like (a dinosaur reading a book to a dog, for example), and then they receive an individualized piece of art created by a professional artist.
For the past several years, MOCA Jacksonville been host to an annual exhibition of Art With a Heart in Healthcare patient work. This year’s show, Inside the Outline, presents creative interpretations of the silhouette. Each piece started with an artist taking a side profile photo of the patient, then projecting and tracing the patient’s silhouette onto the canvas. From there, each patient collaborated in one-on-one sessions with artists to complete the patient’s artistic vision. Patients were asked, “What makes you happy?” For some, the answer was nature, times spent with family in the woods or at the beach. For others, happiness was represented by food, art, or music. After reflecting with artists about the answer to this question, patients took to the canvases with pencils and then acrylic paints.
Looking at the body of work, there’s a wide range of expression, held together with the unifying format of the silhouette. The black backgrounds silence the outside world and allow the viewer to focus on each patient’s voice. Each portrait is an invitation. Here, the viewer truly gets the sense of the impact and value of each child’s personal expression.
The show will open with a reception on Sunday, August 7 from 2-4pm on the 5th floor of MOCA. The pieces will be on display until December 4th. Visit mocajacksonville.unf.edu for more details about the museum’s hours and info, and visit artwithaheart.info to learn more about Art With a Heart in Healthcare.