Monday, April 07, 2014

As a working artist I wear many different hats in order to make ends meet.   On Mondays and Wednesdays I facilitate an Art and Healing program on the High Risk Pregnancy Unit at Tulsa’s Peggy Helmerich Women’s Center.  I am considered and artist in residence through the Arts and Humanities Council.  I have done this project for over 8 years and have been witness to amazing, unintended results.  What began as a program to help break the boredom of the young women on the floor who were confined to their rooms and specifically to their beds for weeks and months at a time.  In the confines of those four walls and in that bed there is no chance of interaction with anyone else on the floor, even their own neighbors, many of whom are experiencing the same difficulties.
Add the Art Cart Sessions:
What before were endless days with nothing to look forward to, no one to talk to, the stress and anxiety of being in the hospital, the worry of their condition and that of their unborn children, and the lack of creative input or output at the most creative time in their lives, now with the art sessions the young women have a reason to get out of bed 2 times a week.   Their spirits rise as time draws near for the sessions .  Solitude turns to community.  Worried young women share their stories.  I often hear “Oh, I am in here for that too.”  Second or third time moms often share a successful preemie birth story  with others who have low weight unborn babies that they are worried about.  Tension and Anxiety begin to lessen as the girls work with their hands creating wooden plaques, frames, jewelry, knit, crochet and more.  The room fills with animated voices and laughter.
This week I had 3 Spanish speakers in Art Cart Sessions, two of whom had been in their hospital rooms for 3 weeks w/o ever meeting each other. One of them had attended as often as I would invite her in my very bad Spanish. This time there was a lot of happy Spanish voices in the room and new friendships were made. The English speakers have been faithful attendees and have stayed later after I leave to continue doing art and this time, one of them brought in movies to watch with everyone after the session. This would have NO CHANCE of ever happening except for the art cart sessions.

Is your church or civic Women's Group looking for a great cause to support? I have been working for many years doing an art program with young women on strict bed rest, many of them for months at a time, awaiting the birth of their child. They are all on the high risk unit of the Peggy Helmerich Women's Health Center. The art cart sessions are the ONLY thing they have to look forward to each week. Unfortunately we have run out of funds for the program and are looking for someone to take on the funding. Any ideas out there? Call me or contact me through Facebook. I had a paid position but am having to move to volunteer just to keep the program going. You can also make a donation through The Arts and Humanities Council w attention the High Risk Unit art cart Arts and Healing Program.

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