Louder Together Than Apart
Art for Healing, Art is Healing, Art Heals, Healing Art, however you want to say it, that is what it is, all of those titles. The creative spark that energizes the process to make art is essential to all of our lives and our healing. And so many say, “I am not an artist”. Oh, yes you are. You are the master craftsman who has used the creative spark to mold and paint and put the mosaic pieces of your life together. It was you, the lead artist who did it. You are the creator of your life story as you meet the challenges and winds of change that swirl around you.
This is the basic and powerful idea that fuels the art for healing with Kids And Art. When we are a part of a family who is swept into the chaos of cancer or a community is devastated by a natural disaster or an individual facing the worst of the worst in our life no matter what it is, we must call on our creative self to help us navigate with our imagination and inspirations so that we can move forward and find hope and meaning in what may seem like a meaningless situation. It is our creative self that helps us over the hump as we imagine what we can do now, how we can survive and become a new me.
Purvi Shah, the founder of Kids And Art says, “Whether we like it or not, kids do get cancer. We might not be able to take their cancer away but we can definitely be there for them through their journey.” And we can do that with Art for Healing, with expressions of feelings and imaginations. Recognizing the healing power of even simple art projects that include everyone no matter what “ability” level is an important key to be able to be there with your loved one on the journey. It can open dialogue that deepens relationships and simply be a vehicle for a caregiver to be present with their patient or loved one. And sometimes magic will happen and joy will seep out and laughter will appear and meaning will come and maybe for just a minute something might make sense.
This has been my experience as a Healing Artist. I am one who has offered simple creative projects like decorating flags to communities to participate in creating beauty in even terrible times. Either at the bedside in the hospital or in the cafeteria at Ronald McDonald house having a chance to “take a break” from the rigors of dealing with serious and chronic illness with colorful fabric, scissors, pens and glitter was healing in its self. For a time, weekly, I would sit with the families who stayed at Ronald McDonald House at dinnertime. We would gather around a table, parents and children decorating flags in honor of the kids they loved and knew and who were their true heroes. It became like a “quilt circle” of old when the women of a community would come together making quilts and at the same time would share the news of the day.
After a time we gathered enough flags to create a public exhibit outside of the House for all of the public to see. The result was uplifting and inspiring as wind’s breezes visited the flags causing them to wave to the outside world. Their messages of hope and love and care were released into the world on those winds. Everyone who participated used their creative spark of imagination, their heartfelt feelings and willingness to be a part of a community event. Together a powerful art project was created where everyone could participate. It said, Art is Healing.
I became interested in Healing Art as I sought to navigate my way being a parent of a child with cystic fibrosis. Who was I in this role, how could I cope with the chronic lung disease, how could I find meaning in so many children and young adults dying so young and how could I ever let go of my daughter. Offering simple projects like healing flags to communities with like issues was healing for me. As time has gone on I now offer SoulCollage® for inner discovery and recently completed a mosaic memorial for a community devastated by wildfire. The memorial is called, Pieces, An Altar for Altered Lives and includes rubble from the homes lost in the 2015 Butte Fire in Calaveras County, CA.
The metaphor for the memorial is that we have to take the broken pieces of our lives and with our creative energy and imagination find our way to a new way of being. There is still so much grief in that community but the gift of the memorial has offered beauty and a place for the community to gather and share their stories and support each other.
Kids And Art now wants to create a community healing project with 1,000 flags. You can be a part of this project. Everyone can decorate a flag and create a message of care and hope. Together it will become a beacon of inspiration, hope and learning. There is so much power in the simple voice of art for everyone. Together as a community wide project that voice becomes a chorus sharing the personal stories of loss and love that can educate others about childhood cancer. It will truly become an example of how Art Heals.