Prompt: How does your internship relate to your coursework and future aspirations? Identify your goals relating to your placement.
As a studio art major, I feel as though any experience in working directly with other people/involving the public in the arts is relevant to my eventual goals. Although I don’t know exactly what they are, I know I’d like to be involved in facilitating community or educational involvement in the arts in the context of responding to real issues facing the given group of people involved. Professionally, I could see myself going into art therapy or maybe even art education (later in life), so having the opportunity to work with patients in an educational and clinical setting at Dana-Farber continues to give me clarity as to what direction might be the best fit for me.
My goals for this placement first off were just to take in the experience of functioning in this kind of setting and evaluate whether or not working with adult cancer patients was something I feel comfortable doing. In high school I interned for a local nonprofit that was a retreat center for children with cancer, and even though I mostly just worked in the office, the presence of serious illness changed the dynamic of everything we were doing. On the one hand, it was great to be a part of an organization making a truly meaningful difference in these families’ lives, but on the other hand it was very difficult trying to know how to respond to bad news in the most appropriate but sincere way. So far in my time at Dana-Farber, I’ve found that while trying to respond remains difficult sometimes, for the most part the positive outlook of the patients I’ve been working with has been incredibly inspiring.
Long term, I’d like to contribute to the educational resources Dana-Farber has to offer. Right now, there’s a bulletin board that serves as a “craft wall” that has examples of different projects available for patients to try out. There is a corresponding binder that has instructions for each craft; old volunteers generated most of the lessons in the binder. There is a second bulletin board that has an assortment of random drawings and paintings done by past volunteers and patients that is most likely work that was left behind…nothing special. I would like to change that. While I do work individually with some patients on fine art projects, the majority of the activity in the creative arts studio is focused on crafts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing- crafts are great for a lot of people- I just want the fine arts to be better represented in the studio than it is now and maybe that will encourage more people to try that instead.
I plan on going about this by starting a binder of my own, except full of technical drawing, perceptual drawing, painting, and mixed media techniques that can be applied to a wide variety of subject matter. I envision it like a simplified version of some of the drawing exercises from foundation drawing and painting. Variation of line, mark, proportion, plum lines, color mixing, color blocking, direct painting- I would like to leave them with a set of skills that will allow patients and future volunteers to go forth and feel confident enough to construct their own imagery instead of pulling it out of a national geographic magazine from 1988 or settling on a craft. I plan on including step-by-step visual examples to accompany the written prompts. I hope to have my first drawing activity written up and hopefully implemented by the end of March.
Of course, I will have to see how it all goes. Ultimately, my responsibility above all is to cater to the interests of the patients visiting the studio, so hopefully I will have some takers but there are no guarantees. However, if my examples are “good” or enticing enough, I think people will at least give it a try. I’ve noticed that the crafts with the most visually appealing examples are the most popular, however kitschy they are. That was my last negative comment about crafts.
I’ve found my experience as a whole so far has been very positive; it’s actually become my favorite place to be. I genuinely enjoy working with people who share my interests in visual arts and healing, and it’s been truly inspiring to be around so much positivity in spite of serious circumstances. I’m motivated to contribute quality educational fine arts programming to the studio and I hope it will be a helpful and intriguing resource for patients and future volunteers interested in fine art.