Letting the Art Shine In

The Tracy’s Kids program at Inova Life with Cancer (LWC) is in Fairfax, VA and looks a little different than the other Tracy’s Kids programs. The outpatient clinic where patients come weekly for treatment is separate from Inova’s Hospital for Children at Fairfax Hospital, where children and teens are admitted when hospitalization is necessary. What is similar is that patients have access to art therapy in the outpatient clinic and in the hospital. However, there is another facet to this program that I also find very rewarding, which are the programs offered to families at the Life with Cancer Family Center where anyone impacted by cancer can access services. Through a grant from Tracy’s Kids, individual and group art therapy support is available to any child or teen impacted by cancer, whether they are in treatment or have a family member with cancer.

When patients and families create art at the clinic they often want to hang it on the walls of the art room. Everyone who comes there for the first time is impacted by the breadth and power of this work. It seemed important to share the art with many other people who are touched by cancer and would truly appreciate it. With the permission of the patients, siblings and parents this amazing art work was displayed in an art show at the LWC Family Center during July and August. This show was moving and powerful. The art contained so much color, energy and expression. It touched the hearts of all those who saw it, which I was told over and over again. Creating art is a healing process and it seems it also has a healing quality when it is viewed. Many thanks to all the kids, teens and parents that participated in this Tracy’s Kids program and Let Their Art Shine In at the LWC Family Center!

Labor Day

The post on Felted Scarves that appeared on Friday was supposed to be my Labor Day reflection (rookie blogger). It is an example of how the Tracy’s Kids art therapists support their colleagues at the hospitals. The health professionals we work with  have very specialized knowledge and skill, and they are incredibly focused and productive. Giving them the opportunity to exercise their creative muscles for a little while can be a great stress-buster. So, check out my post on Felted Scarves, and have a happy Labor Day!

The first step of the process–laying out the roving.

Felted Scarves

One afternoon the clinic emptied out a little early, so we invited the doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplain to an impromptu felting workshop. We had been experimenting with felting techniques, and found the process to be fun and relaxing and the results dependably good, even for first-time felters. For the oncology clinic staff, the chance to engage in a little creative play can be a great stress-buster.

 We took over the art tables and showed everyone how to lay out small strands of roving in several layers and felt them using hot, soapy water and friction to create beautiful scarves. It was pretty amazing to see the variety of designs, and how individual everyone’s piece was. We took a “class photo” of our finished scarves–we think they’re inspirational!

You can learn a lot about felting on the internet. We have found that websites that sell felting supplies (Outback Fibers and Dharma Trading often have excellent tutorials on their sites. Happy Felting!