For Cancer Patients, Exhibit Helps the Healing Begin

Jim Goodwin

 Arts as Healing Sumi drawing
This Sumi drawing on rice paper was created in an Arts as Healing class using a special brush made of bamboo. Sumi ink drawings will be among the more than 200 original artworks featured in the Arts as Healing exhibit on June 29 and 30.

June 21, 2012 – A cancer diagnosis overtakes many aspects of patients’ lives, including their thoughts, schedules and relationships with others. At the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the Arts as Healing program returns an element of control to patients and their loved ones.

On June 29 and 30, patients and family members participating in the art program will share with the public over 200 original works—charcoal drawings, watercolors, ceramic pieces, textiles and other media expressing their personal feelings and hope.

The third Arts as Healing exhibition is free and opens with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on June 29 at 
Des Lee Gallery,
1627 Washington Ave.
, in downtown St. Louis. Additional viewing hours will be from 1 to 6 p.m. on June 30.

“This exhibit is all about the artists’ cancer stories and how art has played a role in their healing. It’s about how the Arts as Healing program has made a difference in their lives,” says Vicki Friedman, facilitator of the program and director of Medical Photography, Illustration and Computer Graphics at the School of Medicine. She runs the program with Marcy Hartstein and Andrea Myles.

Opening remarks on June 29 will come from Siteman director Timothy Eberlein, MD, deputy director John DiPersio, MD, Friedman and two of the 40 artists whose work will be on display. The last exhibition drew about 700 people.

Arts as Healing, which is free to participants, is supported by gifts and donations. Special Circle of Hope bracelets created for the June 29 reception will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the program, which includes studio art classes and large art group projects. Since Art as Healing began in 2005, more than 5,000 patients and their loved ones have participated.

“We started the program because artistic endeavors provide patients and their supporters with a way to convey their complex emotions,” says Friedman, who survived cancer 26 years ago. “Creating art also enables patients to focus on something besides their disease.”

Unfortunately, two of the artists whose work will be on display have died, according to Friedman. She points out the exhibition will serve as a celebration of their lives and creativity.

“Both of them loved and enjoyed the class and made it a point to always be there,” Friedman says. “They were tired and in treatment but continued to share with others their love of life, as expressed through their art.”

Light hors-d’oeuvres and valet parking will be available on June 29, and reservations are requested. They can be made at 314-362-3320 or No reservation is necessary for June 30.

For more information about Arts as Healing or to register for classes, call 314-362-7844.