A Little Art Makes A Big Difference

Chelsea Crane has color on her mind and beads in her carrying case as she walks throughout Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. As one of the five Artists-in-Residence, she’s here to offer patients a creative escape.

Today, she’s with Lisa, who is no stranger to creativity. Lisa shows Chelsea rocks she painted, which she collected at Sturgeon Point on Lake Erie, New York.

They’re big rocks, about 6-8 inches across. Lisa painted them with scenes from nature, like a waterfall, a bridge, trees and bunnies. They’re gifts for her doctors.

“You want them to know that you care for them as much as they care about you,” she says.

Lisa is a lymphoma patient at Roswell Park. She’s spending several weeks in her hospital room preparing for a bone marrow transplant. Although, she’d rather be painting at home or walking the beach. So, when she sees Chelsea come in with her stacks of art supplies, she lights up.

Lisa is making window decorations with beads. She digs happily through bins of colored beads, picks stones in earth tones and begins to string them together. She and Chelsea talk while they make colorful art together.

For Lisa, these visits keep her spirits up.

“It takes your concentration off having tubes in you,” she says.

Chelsea, a dancer with a master’s degree in social work, finds herself humbled by her interactions at Roswell Park.

“As an Artist-in-Residence, I’m able to connect with others in such a unique way,” she says. “We’re able to build our interactions upon art, and I find that this allows people to communicate through a language we don’t often access.”

What Makes These Programs Possible

Thanks to donor gifts, Roswell Park funded 30 quality-of-life programs in 2017, including Artists-in-Residence. These programs help patients get through their battle while finding joy and escape in the smaller things. Roswell Park’s Artists-in-Residence visit clinics and inpatient areas offering music, dance and art activities to those who are interested and feel good enough to participate.

“I always find it touching when a patient says that for a moment they forgot they were in a hospital because I know that the creative interactions are making a difference, ” Chelsea says. “Our team of Artists-in-Residence are truly thankful to all the donors and supporters of our program because it allows us to continue fostering healing interactions.”