Patients, Partners and Possibilities

I have been working at the Warhol for 15 years but I am never bored—as an Associate Curator of Education, I love what I do.  Some weeks hum along as I work and collaborate with artists, teachers, community leaders and inquisitive learners of all ages. Some days stand out.  May 9th was an unforgettable day. For once it was gloriously sunny (in this gray spring of 2011) and in the atrium room of Children’s Hospital I was moved by the beauty of kids, of parents, of professionals and the amazing possibilities that are around every corner in Pittsburgh.

A month prior I had met with the race director Patrice Matamoros of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, in hopes of collaborating on one of my projects, a series of lesson plans looking at the intersecting themes in Sports and Art. Patrice was looking for help to bring the Toyota Kids Marathon of Pittsburgh event in some way to patients at Children’s hospital. In one hour, with her talented staff, we conceived of the event Art in Action. The fun and educational event brought both the marathon and the museum to kids who could not attend these programs in the community due to illness.

IMG_5635_child_warhol_med_resAt Children’s Hospital of UPMC, on May 9th, from 2 to 4 pm, patients from toddlers to teens came through the atrium aided by parents or ChildLife staff — getting a break from their rooms, to move and make art. Children completed laps around the labyrinth and got their pictures taken with their newly earned medals. Children were able to silkscreen print their own pop portraits of local athletes and fun characters; Tinkerbell and Troy Polamalu were most popular. Collage pop portraits were also distributed to patients who couldn’t attend the event through the hospital’s bedside cart program. The volunteers, ChildLife staff, and administrators were incredibly gracious and endlessly helpful to the Warhol crew of artists who have never had to sanitize our tools before between each use.  Silkscreen printing is always sort of magical as the prints are revealed—to bring this delight to patients and families, whose days in the hospital may not have been so easy, was infinitely gratifying.

I take for granted that I live in a city with the prettiest skyline, with three rivers, a city of bridges, a city with some of the best doctors in the world, a city with incredible museums, a city with culture and history, a place that is easy to raise children, and lastly a place with big-hearted people who work together to make good things possible. Remembering my afternoon on May 9 makes all this clear.

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Abby Franzen-Sheehan

Director of Publications