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Enriching Community, Celebrating Local Artists

June 29, 2016 | By Annie Rogers

Analise_AVL(2)What do you think of when you hear the word community? Maybe you think of your friends or family, your colleagues or teammates. You might think of your school, your church, or your neighborhood.

If you’re a patient or family member going through treatment for a serious illness or disability though, chances are, you think of the hospital. You think of the doctors and nurses and therapists who take care of you. You think of the social workers, child-life specialists, and Arts For Life teachers who help and nurture and teach you.  You think of the other patients and families whose journeys so closely reflect your own.

The hospital is a beautiful community in many ways, filled with hope and encouragement. But it is not a community that most people would choose.

That’s why this month’s keywords – local artists, culture, and community – are so important to Arts For Life teachers: drawing attention to the vibrant, communities of each of our chapter cites helps remind our families of the life, love, and creativity that surrounds them and lifts them up.  Whether we are being inspired by the whimsical designs of Asheville potter Scot Cameron-Bell, or the mesmerizing paintings of Winston-base painter Laura Lashley, Arts For Life teachers use this month as an opportunity to share and celebrate the uplifting work artists in our communities make. Because many families don’t have the luxury of going out to see the work of the artists in their towns, we are bringing the work to them.Analise&Clarissa_AVL

This was the case on a recent Monday, when sisters Clarissa, Annalise, and Emilia, along with their mom, Dianna, visited the Olson Huff Center art table at Mission Children’s Hospital.  All four family members are regulars here, and on this particular day, the weekly project was this Paper Quilt lesson inspired by Winston-Salem quilter Kait Neely.
Emelia_age2_AVL(4)Clarissa, always in a rush to get started before getting called back for her appointment, took one look at the examples of work from the artist and dove right into arranging her own patterned paper shapes. “This is a very popular project,” says Program Coordinator Anna Long. “The dynamic patterned ‘scraps’ and shapes are really interesting for all ages- kids love moving them around to see the affect before gluing them down.”

The lesson offered something not just for Clarissa, but for everyone in the family: seven-year-old Annalise spent her time at the table painstakingly arranging her shapes and carefully lacing the yarn through the holes around the edges of her finished paper quilt. Even two-year-old Emilia, assisted by her mom, stayed busy gluing her shapes for the whole hour of her sister’s therapy!

And while for these young artists, creating the quilts was fun and educational,  it was drawing the connection between the lesson and the artist who inspired it – just this one simple step – that transformed their beautiful collages into beautiful reflections of a shared community.

Emelia's Collage_age2_AVLClarissa's Paper QuiltAnalise's Paper Quilt
Kait Neely-inspired Paper Quilt Collages by Emilia, Clarissa, and Annalise