When we are open and receptive, we can experience the power of art to bring forth healing specific to the individual. For children, this process is effortless, honest, and intuitive. As volunteers, we have the honor of facilitating that healing through art and are gifted in return by learning more about what love and service really are.
The art project for the Kids & Art workshop that day was geared toward children who were a little older than the child who eventually sat next to me. From across the room, I could see he was clearly excited. He was leading, almost pulling his caretaker by the hand to the table.
He sat next to me. I smiled. His eyes never met mine as he focused intently on the colored beads before him, fingers already outstretched and grabbing. I was gathering supplies, explaining, and modeling the project for him in between bead grabs. I managed to hold his attention for a moment. He was trying to follow along but his little fingers didn’t have quite the dexterity for the project at hand. I tried modifying the project, redirecting him to materials he “needed” like paint and colored pencils but he kept grabbing more and more beads- the most unessential, even unnecessary material for the project- whenever he could. Beads everywhere now and some falling to the floor. I’m smiling, even laughing, as this child, with his full abandon and clear intent on having those beads was touching something deep within me.
I could have him produce some semblance of the intended project, I thought, but in that moment, more than any other moment, I realized none of this was about me. None of this was about the finished product. This had everything to do with this child, his healing, and the healing of every child we serve at the Kids & Art workshops.
This child understood the power of art for his healing in ways that I could only hope to understand. He was teaching me and I was there to witness and serve.
Those beads were what he needed. He knew best.
He stared at their colors, their shapes. The touch, the feel, was soothing as he rolled them up in his palm. He lined them up in rows on the paper, stacked, and rearranged them. He added more, took some away. He lined them back up and rearranged some more. And that was good, that was calming.
Following his lead now, I forgot all about the project and I laid out some glue dots. Without words, I showed him how placing a bead on the glue dot would make them stick to the paper. He reached down and pulled the bead from the paper and placed it back on the glue dot. He looked up at me now, he smiled. I smiled. I placed more glue dots on the paper. He placed more beads on and lifted more beads off. I couldn’t stick glue dots to the paper fast enough now. He was on a roll!
Now, I smeared glue dots in rows along the paper. He made trails of beads along the paper as before. This time, the adhesive was keeping them in place. He looked at me as if to say, “Now you got it!” He continued pulling up and resticking beads along the way, finding pure joy in the sticky sensation. His excitement, unbridled and truly palpable.
When it was time to go, he had his very own signature work of art to take with him. He was proud and I was beyond grateful to have witnessed such an honest expression of healing love and joy through artistic expression.
Kids & Art Foundation is thankful to have a vast community of artists who create with us. Our artists share their passion for art and their commitment to make the world a better place. Without them we cannot heal pediatric cancer through art.
If you believe in the healing power of artists then please support our artist stipends with your donations and corporate matching. All donations are 100% tax deductible and our EIN is 27-1415727