Living Art Project Update

Pastel artist Penny Creasy founded the Living Art Project (featured in the October 2008 issue of the magazine), a series of free art classes offered to cancer survivors at St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Grand Junction, Colo., in 2007 with a $1,000 grant from the Pastel Society of Colorado. Last fall, Creasy had just launched the Living Art Project’s second year; she recently e-mailed with an update:

“We have completed another eight months working on the Living Art
Project. The instructors—all professionals, and not necessarily pastelists—stepped up and gave amazing classes. I would like to recognize them in this report: Bev Lee, Gerri Harris, Dawn Sagar, Deb Bonzek, Chuck Morris and Lorraine Sells.

“Sometimes the numbers of participants didn’t reflect the quality of the accomplishments. We decided as a group that three or four needed it as much as 10 or 12. The gravity of the illnesses made us realize that sometimes they just couldn’t come. We discovered the value of what we were doing in the individual responses. We heard things like, ‘You changed my life,’ or ‘You have been my inspiration.’ That hour and a half twice a month gave each of those people that amount of time they didn’t have to think about cancer. I asked one lady at the beginning class what her expectations were for the class. She said she wanted to ‘learn to draw while this destroys me.’ I told her that wasn’t going to happen—and it hasn’t. She came in one afternoon and said, ‘This wig is driving me nuts!’ I said, ’So take it off!’ She threw it in a sack and got on with the artwork. (I can’t say giving her a voice through her art has healed her, but it sure has given her a reason for being.)

“St. Mary’s feels there is such a value in what we do that they want to continue and I believe they will come forward with some financial help. When people have heard what the project is about, they’ve volunteered to help with instruction or donate supplies. The Board of Directors of the Pastel Society of Colorado has agreed to supply funds for the next session beginning in September.”

What good things like this project are happening in your community?

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