Making a Mark is an annual event showcasing art from kids who are being treating for cancer and blood disorders. We celebrated our 23rd anniversary this year with an art exhibit presented by The Periwinkle Foundation. The opening has already passed, but it’s not too late to see the art yourself! The art is on exhibit on the Auxiliary Bridge between the West Tower and the Clinical Care Tower and will be on display through October 7th.
This year, we had over 380 pieces of art from our patients and their siblings in the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers as well as from kids being treated for cancer and blood diseases in other treatment centers from countries all over the world, including centers in Poland, Peru, Brazil and Panama. The “Healing Hands” project was created by our featured artist Reginald Adams.
Over the years we have made many additions to the Making A Mark opening but have stayed true to the mission of celebrating these children as artists and heroes. The first Making A Mark art exhibit was held in the lobby of our Feigin Tower, then the home of our outpatient clinic. The exhibit moved to the Auxiliary Bridge, in 2001, the year the bridge opened. But with over 400 guests this year we may need to look for a new location soon! We also now receive and exhibit artwork from our program at the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic in McAllen, TX.
For the past 15 years we have selected a featured artist from the community to come in and work with our kids, patients and siblings in the outpatient clinic, to create a special piece for the show. These artists make several visits to the outpatient clinic and create a piece of art that reflects their vision while incorporating the work of our patients. For our 20th anniversary we invited every previous artist back, and they each came in to the clinic and worked to create a special frame. This year we expanded this project to include our long term survivors and we also held two of the workshops at the MOCAH (Museum of Cultural Arts Houston) studio where our featured artists worked with our survivors on a 3D tile mosaic mixed media sculpture.
The Making A Mark receptions have always included arts,crafts and refreshments. With the support of The Periwinkle Foundation, the celebration has grown to include live music, face painting and this year for the first time ever, a photo booth. About 5 years ago we added Postcards From the Road. Wherever Making A Mark travels and at the opening exhibit here at Texas Children’s, people are encouraged to write a postcard to one of the artists. Last year alone we received more than 5,000 postcards that were then distributed to the artists. These postcards express encouragement and support for the artists and their families. We hear from our patient families how much it means to them to receive letters from around the country. A teen once told me it was “cool” to get mail.
This year was very special because we had 58 artists present or represented at the opening! Since this whole exhibit is about them and their personal message, we were grateful so many were able to attend and be celebrated. The artwork, whether created by a 3-year old or a 20-year old, is a part of them that they are willing to share with us and is a window to the hopes, fears and joys of each of these heroes.
I feel so lucky to have worked with so many of these children over the years and to have had several of them come back as volunteers (who also submit art to the show) in the Arts in Medicine program. With the support of The Periwinkle Foundation this artwork travels around Houston, Texas and throughout the U.S. and carries messages of hope wherever it travels. The art itself is as diverse as each child: from photos, to torn paper collages, to watercolor and pencil drawing. From the simplicity of a drawing of a strawberry, to the detailed sketch of a boat dock, this is how I remember these kids.