Works by hundreds of young patients from Rush University Medical Center and other local hospitals will be on display next week at Snow City Arts‘ Gallery Night 2010. We spoke to two Snow City artists-in-residence, visual artist Allison Spicer and filmmaker John Lyons, about the event and the roles they play at Snow City and Rush.
Why do you think what you do is important for kids here in a hospital?
Spicer: I think what’s great about our job in the hospital — and we’re probably the very few that get to say this — is that we don’t see sick kids. When they come into the idea lab and into the studio they’re just lively kids. There’s times when they’ll get tired, and it’s a reminder that — oh, that’s right, they’re ill — and there’s a reason they’re here, but we get to walk into the room and be these people that are just there to have fun with them and make something of the day, make something out of anything that they want to do.
Lyons: We engage with them in a completely different way, besides their family and friends or whatever visitors. We’re probably the only people who walk through their door that aren’t asking anything medical of them — How are you feeling? How’s your medicine? Does it hurt here? Or we’re going to do this procedure or that. It’s really got nothing to do with that. So while the hospital and while the sick kids are sort of the thread that runs through everything that we do here, other than that it really doesn’t come up at all. There have been times, it sounds funny but there are times when you almost forget that you’re here, like you almost forget that you’re in a hospital.
Is that the most important thing — to keep their minds off the other things that are going on with them?
Spicer: For us I think we’re trying more to teach them something for that day.
Lyons: I think that happens organically when we’re working with them, they don’t forget why they’re here, they don’t forget that there might be something painful going on with them at that moment, but it becomes less important and there is something else to focus on.
When you work with these patients it sounds like it’s clearly more than just keeping them engaged while they’re here in the hospital. It sounds like you want to encourage them to be artists.
Lyons: It’s not like we say we want you to follow in our footsteps or become artists. Art, I think, is more than a profession. It can be a useful way to engage and communicate with people while they’re here.
Can you tell us a little about Gallery Night? Continue reading