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Owensboro Edition: Life Is Art – Writing & Collage Workshops with Breast Cancer Survivors
8 Oct 2013
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Support received through Arts for Activism Grants of the the Kentucky Foundation for Women enabled me to design and implement art workshops with several populations across Kentucky.  The latest project took place in four locations during the Fall of 2010.  My target group was breast cancer survivors and I partnered with The Kentucky Cancer Program to arrange facilities and invite women in their area of the state to participate, and in one location we also included women currently undergoing treatment.

I engaged the women, and several men who attended to assist their wives, in writing in journals and then guiding them in visually expressing their writings using drawing and collage techniques. My goal was to empower women who had, or were currently undergoing, traumatic and life changing health challenges to express themselves through their writings and artwork - and to spend creative, quality time in the company of others with shared experiences. Through a series of writing prompts they filled the provided bound journals with their thoughts about foods, colors and hobbies they enjoy, their favorite holidays/celebrations, who they admired and why, their hopes and plans for the future, and what they experienced during their healing journey. They continued on to draw, doodle, cut pictures, colors, letters and words from provided magazines, fancy papers and other materials to create collages in the journals to compliment and express their writings.

The women responded by sharing moving memories and stories with each other while they worked on their books, which reflected their beauty and bravery.  Many expressed joy for rediscovering their creative side, others reconnected with life goals they had put aside during treatment and I believe all found solace, sisterhood and friendship as they talked, wrote, drew, cut and glued.  Refreshments were provided and over food each woman rose to show and talk about the artwork and writings in their books.  Everyone left with their journal, art materials, pens and some with sets of colored pencils or markers so they could continue adding to their books in the future...which more than a few said they would treasure doing and planned on inviting other women in their families to join them.

This workshop took place in the Maple Mount Conference and Retreat Center in Owensboro where 22 women participated.

The artist or arts organization telling this story was supported in part by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. KFW is based on the belief that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky. For more information about the foundation and the social change artmaking being done by the individuals and organizations it supports, visit www.kfw.org." 

Art Multimedia Non-Fiction Poetry Challenges Community Culture Empowerment Health Local Recovery Rural-Urban Women Books/Writing Project/Initiative Southeast Visual Artist Writer cancer Collage Journaling
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