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pottery and paintbrushes bring healing to hospitalized kids

updated fri 9 sep 11


James Freeman on thu 8 sep 11

A really interesting (and moving) article landed in my mailbox this
morning. In light of the recent thread concerning "pottery versus ceramics=
(commercial glaze painted onto bisque ware), and last week's thread on art
and healing, I thought I would share it. The article is too long to post i=
it's entirety, so here are a few snippets:
Pottery and paintbrushes bring healing to hospitalized kids

=3D93At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process ari=
from a single source.=3D94 Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

The truth of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen=3D92s words can be found in a unique
partnership between Detroit Medical Center=3D92s Children=3D92s Hospital of=
and Pewabic Pottery in Detroit. Started in 2004, the Children=3D92s Healing=
Program pairs Pewabic Pottery artists with young patients at Children=3D92s
Serra, who was hired to bring art into the hospital, soon found it meant
more than putting artwork on the walls. It required creating a healing
environment. She turned to Pewabic Pottery, Michigan=3D92s only historic
pottery. =3D93We=3D92ve had a longstanding relationship with Pewabic,=3D94 =
said S=3D
=3D93This was just another way to grow that relationship.=3D94
According to Serra, about 75% of patients at Children=3D92s Hospital are
Medicaid eligible. =3D93These kids come out of very difficult situations. M=
don=3D92t have art programs in their schools anymore. For many of them this=
their first exposure to art. The artists plant seeds in the children and
provide them a skill. I often hear a child talk about how they went home an=
taught their brother or sister what they learned.=3D94
Research has long demonstrated the positive effects of art on the healing
process. =3D93Not only can it help the patients heal, it can also heal
families,=3D94 said Serra. =3D93It=3D92s especially important for the paren=
Duckworth. =3D93The stress is so great when you have a sick child. Doing ar=
helps take the parent=3D92s mind off things.=3D94 Duckworth described a mot=
her =3D
arrived in the activity room crying and very upset. Her child was soon to
have major surgery. The artist on hand got the woman to begin painting a
clay pot and in no time she was lost in her work. The art is also helpful
for siblings who are also struggling with the emotional effects of a brothe=
or sister=3D92s hospitalization.

=3D93Art centers you,=3D94 said Serra. =3D93When you=3D92re sick or stresse=
d it=3D92s=3D
to be centered. The program focuses less on the therapeutic movements of
doing art and more on the creative process. It=3D92s more art-making than a=
For Serra and the Healing Arts Team (volunteers, child life specialists,
nursing staff, and artists) things are beginning to pay off. =3D93We=3D92re=
to hear from physicians who are impressed with the program,=3D94 said Serra=
Recently, a physician stopped by to watch an artist work with a child. =3D9=
doctor was really moved to see the child doing what any other child would b=
doing,=3D94 said Serra.
As one of the only hospitals in Michigan with a bedside art program, DMC wa=
recently asked to partner on a research project with Karmanos Cancer
Institute. We=3D92re working with kids who are in on-going cancer treatment=
said Serra. =3D93For them, coming into the hospital is not fun. So, we=3D92=
administering art before the procedure, in an effort to shift the child=3D9=
focus.=3D94 Serra recently talked with a parent who said this was the first=
her son, who worked on a torn-paper collage, had not cried before the
procedure. =3D93The mother said she wished every time they came there could=
an artist,=3D94 said Serra.
=3D93Art is a wound turned into light=3D94 painter and sculptor George Braq=
ue o=3D
said That light is reflected in joy of the young patients at Children=3D92s
Hospital, in the memories of Pewabic artists like Kay Willingham who guide
their young spirits, and on the canvases and collages that decorate the
walls of a hospital that understands how art can and does help heal.

The entire article can be found here:

Enjoy your day.


James Freeman

"All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should
not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed."
-Michel de Montaigne