MU Children's Hospital patients create artwork

Thursday, January 13, 2011 | 7:39 p.m. CST; updated 9:19 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 13, 2011
The quilt was created by 30 MU Children's Hospital patients after being told the story of "The Yellow Boat." Each child created a small quilt square depicting things they love and what makes them happy.

COLUMBIA — An inspirational story led 30 MU Children's Hospital patients to create a quilt that will be on display at the premier of a PACE Youth Theatre performance Friday.

After telling the story of "The Yellow Boat," which will be performed by the youth theater, MU graduate student Dawn Sees helped the children create individual works of art or writing, which she then assembled into one collaborative piece that reflected the themes of love, faith and hope from the story.

“The artwork and words of the children are expressions of who they are, things they love, are optimistic about and are important to them,” Sees, who is getting her master's degree in art education, wrote in an e-mail.

“The Yellow Boat” is the story of a boy who contracts AIDS through a blood transfusion and channels his feelings into creative and imaginative drawings. 

“I asked the kids to create a drawing of things they liked, were hopeful for, or made them happy,” she said.

Sees, who developed the concept of the quilt as a final project for her degree, worked in collaboration with the Children's Hospital Art in Healthcare program, PACE Youth Theatre, Professor Kathy Unrath of MU’s art education program and Professor Jo Stealey of MU’s fiber program.  

“I’m just so grateful that so many different people came together to make this project a success," she said.

Sees said each quilt square was created from a print designed by a patient. She arranged the patients' designs, had the drawings printed on fabric and used the squares to assemble the quilt. 

Sees, who had never made a quilt before, sewed and assembled the entire project herself with the advice of Stealey.

“I have a newfound appreciation for fiber arts,” Sees said. “It was the hardest art project I’ve ever worked on.”

PACE produces an Arts in Health series each year to focus on children with health issues. "The Yellow Boat" focuses on art therapy as a way of dealing with the emotions and challenges brought on by any serious illness. 

As in the story, the patients were able to participate in art therapy.

“The quilt is an example, to me, how powerful art is in health and in recovery because it is bringing art and health together to benefit patients,” said Sandy Scotten, director of MU Health Care's Art in Health Care program.

Scotten said research suggests that the use of art in health care can promote recovery by providing a calming effect, a more positive environment, and a diversion from the patient’s illness.   

“I experienced first-hand how powerful art is as a way for healing and expression,”  Sees said. “Art has given these children a voice, empowered them and allowed them to leave their imprint on our world.”

"The Yellow Boat" will run from Jan. 14-16 in Jesse Auditorium.

An artist reception will be held for the children Saturday before the evening performance of the play. It will be the first unveiling of the quilt to the patients and their families.

The quilt will be displayed at the PACE performances before being displayed at the Children’s Hospital as a permanent piece of art.

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