Mid-Semester Review

Mid-semester review:  I have now been at Dana-Farber for about 4 months.

In that time, I’ve become pretty comfortable working in the hospital setting and interacting with new patients.  One of my biggest fears going into Dana-Farber was finding out that I wouldn’t be well suited to do this kind of work, so I’m very relieved this has been a good fit.  I’ve always said that I wanted to help others find a voice through artwork the same way I found mine while I was recovering from my brain injury.  I talk about that aspiration all the time, and at this point I’ve been talking about it for years now.  However, talking about it is one thing, and then actually seeing it through in reality is another.  This year, between my work on Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston (www.bostonartsmarathon.com for more info) and being at Dana-Farber now, I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) how to help people communicate visually through drawing and painting.  Not everyone does this by literally throwing themselves into that conduit position without any real knowledge of how to teach people how to make things or facilitate serious, meditative dialogue about topics like the Boston Marathon bombing or a cancer diagnosis- but everyone’s got to start somewhere.  Thankfully in my case learning by doing seems to be working out pretty well, and I feel really good about having the learned the majority of what I now know about these things rom real life interactions instead of learning from a class or textbook.

Now that I’m more comfortable working with patients, I’ve begun taking steps to lead fine arts and crafts (side note: as much as I dislike “crafts” I will say they do have an incredible cathartic quality for some people, and for that reason, the crafting shall continue) outside the creative arts studio and in other areas of the hospital.  Lately the attendance in the studio has been down, which is in part due to its obscure location and people not knowing about it- so I want to bring the resources the studio has to offer into more highly trafficked areas of the hospital.  Hopefully, this will not only generate interest and awareness of Dana-Farber’s Arts programming to a larger audience, but also make the studio’s resources more easily accessible to patients and others who might not be able to come down to us.  Yesterday I did a practice run of an origami box making workshop I hope to bring up to the cafeteria with a few visitors in the studio.  It went pretty well, the kids participating actually picked it up much easier than any of the adults I was working with, so I think I’ll need to work out some alternative methods of explanation before I work with a larger number of people.  But overall, I think this activity will be fun for people and I hope to have it ready to go with the space booked in the next week or so!

After I’ve done that, I plan to continue working on some entry-level fine arts workshops.  The craftier activities like this are more popular with the patients, so ultimately I think I’m probably going to be spending more time in that area, but I still would like to make the option for a more traditional drawing or painting workshop available.  At this point that’s probably a little farther off in the future (maybe over the summer?), but hopefully after doing the craft workshops I’ll have a better sense of how I might set up a drawing workshop to be more inviting and less intimidating.