Pediatric patient on exhibit until December

Art with a Heart in Healthcare and MOCA Jacksonville showcase young artists


MOCA Jacksonville continues its nine-year partnership with Art with a Heart in Healthcare and the current exhibit, “Animal-Gamation,” a special exhibition of artwork by pediatric patients from Wolfson Children’s Hospital on display until Sunday, Dec. 8. The program is sponsored by Black Knight Financial Services.

According to MOCA’s Jacksonville Director Caitlín Doherty, the successful and well-attended exhibition opening Sunday, Aug. 11 was a testimony to the healing power of art and a celebration of its growing momentum in the world of healthcare.

Art with a Heart in Healthcare is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides personalized fine art experiences that enhance the healing process for patients and their families.

Seven days a week, Art with a Heart in Healthcare programs and services funds a talented team of staff artists, community volunteers and interns from the University of North Florida and master’s students from the Arts in Medicine program at University of Florida. Patients are from Palm Coast to St. Augustine to Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach, and beyond. The nonprofit’s team of artists and volunteers have served tens of thousands of patients and their families in northeast Florida at Wolfson Children's Hospital, Nemours Children's Specialty Clinic, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Mayo Clinic.

Each patient in the program has an opportunity to partner with an artist-in-residence of AWAHIH, bringing out the young artists’ natural abilities, while promoting self-confidence and self-awareness during their hospital experience. 

As a patient who lives with her family in St. Augustine Beach, Francesca is a 16-year-old artist participation in the exhibit this year. She was diagnosed two years ago with a very rare illness called Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. Dr. Nicholas Poulos saved her life with a Ladd’s procedure as 33% of patients die from the digestive condition. Francesca’s SMAS demanded hospitalization at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Creating art was and is still a way for her to have a positive experience with the support of her family and friends, plus the artists from the hospital program.

“Francesca’s notoriety at the exhibit opening and her trust and confidence in the art rooms are two very meaningful and positive experiences in our lives. This is exactly what she needs most,” Francesca’s mother, Susan, said. “Our daughter gets her mind off her illness and feeling badly when she is creating. She loved working with the artists and other children at the hospital. We are honored to have Francesca’s artwork called “Flarrot” in the current show at MOCA.” 

Ariana, who lives in Kingsland, Georgia with her family, is now 11 years old and was treated for Acute chest syndrome, a frequent cause of acute lung disease in children with sickle cell disease. She and her family suffered through her devastating illness since she was two years old while participating in the art program which served as a much-needed distraction from a very stressful time and helped with the healing process. Ariana and her family are appreciative of the artists and care Ariana received in treatment and is displaying her art piece titled “Wolf-B” at the current show.

“Art with a Heart in Healthcare’s professional artists share their creative gifts seven days a week with Wolfson Children’s Hospital patients, in every setting, from the medical and surgical floors to our child and adolescent behavioral health unit, at the bedside, and in our playrooms,” said Michael D. Aubin, president of Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “Art with a Heart in Healthcare is an essential member of our Wolfson Children’s Hospital caregiving team.”

For the 2019 exhibition, “Animal-Gamation” is a play on the word ‘amalgamation,’ with artists using their imagination and creating an animal by combining characteristics of different members of the animal kingdom. 

“Each artist was asked to create a unique animal by combining two or more animals. We explored the characteristics and meaning the animals have with the patients’ own personality traits, and their life stories to help combine an animal that symbolized who they were and what they wanted to represent. Working with AWAHIH artists they brought out their own natural talents and expanded their artistic expression on a mixed media canvas,” said Christy Ponder, executive director and artist in residence of AWAHIH.



No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment