Volunteering at The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Over the holidays I started working as a studio arts instructor at The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Though I’ve only committed to a spring schedule so far, I hope to keep this commitment long term.   My goal is to gain experience and insight into the roles visual arts can play in a clinical setting, academically speaking.  I also just like meeting new people and hearing their stories.  And getting to paint in a “judgment free zone”.  In the short time I’ve already been here, this is already my favorite job I’ve ever had.

So far I’ve mostly just been assisting patients and visitors individually with projects they have started either from earlier in the week or from a previous visit.  The projects are as different as the people themselves, so I’ll be sure to post pictures of things when they’re all done (and if they let me)!

Our more structured activity this week was “appreciation journals” (pictured below).  Patients had the option to dress them up or leave the outside plain, but the idea was to fill each page of the journal with something they appreciate.  Some people took them away to do a page per day and others sat down and filled the whole thing.  The one pictured below was made by a patient for his wife as a Valentines Day present, with one thing he appreciates about her on every page.   If that’s not what “Love is” than I don’t know.  Sorry I’m not sorry for the pun.