Community Arts and Healing
Art HOPE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting creative wellness for people living with cancer or long-term illness and the community at large, in collaboration with schools, health organizations, and arts groups in Maine.
It all starts with a story. I painted "Garden of Well-being" inspired by a cancer patient's beautiful visual metaphor for creative wellness. We met for creativity sessions during her long chemotherapy treatments at the local hospital where I teach expressive arts. She was a storyteller who enjoyed the therapy of relating colorful tales and a deep love of her Maine home. My friend knew she had a captive audience in me, and encouraged me to sketch as I listened to her gentle voice find a creative voice. She shared memories of the things she loved most in life, especially her garden, which overlooked the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge at the Wells Reserve. At age 70 she battled the disease that would soon take her life. Knowing she had a difficult prognosis, I asked how she saw herself at that moment. Her uplifting response was, "I see myself as a blue bird flying high above my garden". This magic little painting is my interpretation of her healing narrative and imagery. Art tells the story of hope and what gives meaning to life.
This is just one of the inspring experiences that led me to establish the nonprofit organization Art HOPE. For over a decade we've offered community arts and healing programs. As founder and executive director, I am proud of our grassroots work as we continue to build our online creative wellness resources and curriculums. The Art HOPE book is inspired by this work, and a percentage of my author's royalties benefits the nonprofit. Learn more about the organization and read my creative wellness blog at www.arthope.org.