I recently had the honor of representing Kids & Art in a collaboration with the “Paint It On” project in DaNang, Vietnam. The project was supported by a college volunteer organization, “One Painting-Many Hopes” a group from the DaNang University of Technology. “Paint It On” was created to help develop an art therapy component to add to existing programs provided for the patients and families, staying at the DaNang Cancer Hospital.
The main objective for our collaboration was to share how Kids & Art creates and organizes projects and events. We also wanted to share how we interact with cancer patients and their families during our workshops.
Currently “One Painting-Many Hopes” visits the DaNang Cancer Hospital three times a week, providing music, singing, a mobile library, and occasional art projects. Like our organization, the group’s visits provide welcome a relief from hospital routines for patients and families.
My first visit to the hospital I sat and listened to a music group gathered in a lobby adjacent to the rooms. Their smiles and laughter lit up the hospital audience. I also visited the children’s activity room and did a small project together.
I am sure my Vietnamese hosts thought I was the typical “Type A” American worried about deadlines. They were too kind to point out that I might be over-planning and over-worried. Occasionally they would graciously remind me that I could relax and everything would turn out alright.
Getting supplies in DaNang and transporting them “Vietnamese style.”
Amazing volunteers carefully traced the mural pieces onto the canvases in just two hours.
In between getting ready for the big Sunday event I was able to meet with the college volunteers for other hospital activities. We sang, laughed and worked together doing small art projects with patients. For some of the patients, it was a new experience to paint and they were quite hesitant to join in. The students were great, gently encouraging them to paint, always respectful of how they were feeling. It was great to see the volunteers and hospital community experience the art materials together.
This patient enjoyed watching the group as they happily painted. I could tell she was very weak, so I brought her a wooden heart and a pen to draw with. She wrote her name and a blessing on it.
I encouraged her to keep the heart, but she wanted it to be part of the group project.
Art is an empowering force.
The big Sunday event was finally here! I was told that 100+ participants and volunteers would be present. We had prepared all week and were ready, so I took a deep breath and watched the event unfold. The day was Amaezing. “One Painting-Many Hopes” provided music, dance, and speeches, always inviting the hospital community to join in.
The collaborative painting is named the “Tree of Life and Hope,” a 6’ x 5’ mural that was divided in to 42 pieces, each piece painted by hospital participants with the help of student volunteers. As each piece was completed the tree grew and grew. Throughout the group, you could see many happy smiles enjoying the day, a relief from the challenges of battling cancer. The finished painting was breathtaking and celebrated by all.
Painting the tree together, as patients, family, volunteers, and friends from across the world, we created a collaboration of strength and togetherness.
I came home from Vietnam realizing that the cancer battle is universal and the empowerment of creating art is healing for us all.
These are the people who made my wonderful experience possible – sponsors, guides, my host family – and there was always delicious food and beautiful smiles!
How Kids & Art Became a Part of my Life
As an artist and art educator I believe that creating art is another language we can learn to express ourselves without writing or speaking. It is also my personal experience and philosophy that the process of creating art is healing.
I met Amaey at his elementary school, he was one of my art students. Amaey was a student who approached his art projects with intention and determination. At the time I did not know he was facing challenges in another part of his life. Intention and determination was is his strength and how he approached life. Through Amaey I met his mother Purvi Shah the founder of Kids & Art. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this Amaeyzing organization.
As an artist I can contribute to helping create a lasting moment with the children and their care circle. Fast forward 8 years and I am still thankful to be a part of Kids & Art and helping with the mission and my passion- Art is Healing.