GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Emily Morton, 8, of Wright Township, was six weeks old when she contracted the HSV-1 virus, causing encephalitis. It’s a condition that has left her with lifelong medical battles, her mother, Jennifer, said. Her older sister Katie, 10, suffers from dysautonomia – a disorder of the autonomic nervous system – and long COVID.

Thanks to Make-A-Wish® Foundation, Emily was introduced to a local artist and Canvas treatments Founder Cynthia Hagedorn. With Hagedorn, she was able to enjoy a much-needed break from focusing on her chronic pain through a side-by-side painting session, with big sister Katie coming to share the experience.

Jennifer said Katie was also deeply affected by the experience. “When Katie did her first painting with Cynthia, she left in tears, because she was so happy. Cynthia had given her a wonderful compliment because she had acquired an excellent technique with oil pastels. For Katie, At age 10, receiving this amazing compliment from an artist really meant something to her. It really opened up something in Katie that she didn’t know she had. So now we have chalk pastels everywhere “, she said.

“I created a scribble and a tree,” Emily said. “It’s like a sunset with a rainbow. I made it in different colors. I drew the sun setting by the lake. I drew myself and Miss Cynthia holding hands under the rainbow. It did me good. »

On Sunday, June 12, the Morton girls – along with Emily’s twin brother, Gavin, as well as other artists who have created work under Hagedorn’s guidance – will have the opportunity to exhibit and sell their art. The art show and market will be held at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center, 600 Forest Hill Ave. SE. The show is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is open to the public.

Canvas treatments is a program that partners with community groups that support children and adults in a variety of circumstances, including Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and Make-A-Wish® Michigan’s Grand Rapids Office, among others, to provide opportunities for people facing a variety of challenges. These obstacles often center around health issues, but also include grief, recovery, and other transitions, to express their unique and individual journeys through painting. The paintings are then exhibited in public exhibitions.


Sunday June 12

4-6 p.m.

Forest Hills Center for Fine Arts

600 Forest Hill Avenue SE

Hagedorn said the upcoming Art Show and Marketplace represents a multi-year achievement. She had worked as an artist-in-residence with various community organizations, in part as part of Leadership on Canvas’s ongoing sister program originally launched for ArtPrize in 2014. This became an annual event, eventually leading to the launch of Care on Canvas, rising an inaugural art exhibition in 2017.

“It went really well, with a lot of grassroots community support,” Hagedorn said. “After that show, one of the children’s life specialists at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital told me that he thought it was really cool to see these kids coming out of the hospital and into the community. with their families doing something fun, something different. . That first year was magical, so I was like, ‘I have to do it again.’”

The 2022 Art Show and Market will feature 30 attendees – 19 children and 11 adults – including CareArtists sponsored and/or supported by Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Sponsorships are $300 per participant and cover all art supplies in addition to one-on-one studio sessions with Hagedorn.

Kent Riddle, CEO of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, has several ties to Care on Canvas, in addition to Mary Free Bed’s ongoing collaboration with the program. He first met Hagedorn when he became a lead artist in the Leadership on Canvas program. Later, following a heart attack, he himself became a CareArtist Care on Canvas, and last year he sponsored 10 participants for Care on Canvas.

“I was raised in a home that embraced the arts,” Riddle said. “We thought it was important to surround our children with the arts. My daughter, Kelly, is an artist and certified art therapist. I’m an engineer, but I find that being creative and surrounding ourselves with visual arts keeps us healthy individually and as a community. We can see things from a different angle when we look at art. We appreciate different things and different points of view.

Riddle said that once he heard about Care on Canvas, he knew he wanted it to happen at Mary Free Bed. “I love what Cynthia does. I enjoyed the experience or creating something. I’m not an artist. I’m creative, but I don’t have the technical skills to paint. Cynthia showed me that you don’t need a lot of technical skills to create, process and enjoy making art. I wanted that for our patients,” he said.

Maggie Lancaster, CEO of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, a major sponsor of the art exhibit and market, said Care on Canvas fills a need within the community in West Michigan, by especially with regard to young participants.

“There just aren’t enough opportunities for all of our children to participate in art or create art, especially with schools cutting arts, music and education programs. physical,” Lancaster said. “Especially you don’t have many of those opportunities when you’re hospitalized with a serious illness or you’re going through some other hardship. Care on Canvas is just one great opportunity to provide respite to these children and their families. But it’s a program that only exists when it’s funded. It should be a daily experience for every child in every children’s hospital. This should not be seen as just a pleasant program, but as an interrelated element of care for these children.

Lancaster said she hopes community members take this chance to support CareArtists and their work. “By coming out, you are supporting people who deserve this opportunity to showcase their amazing work. If you could take 30 minutes and see what this program brings to our community and our families, it would change you. When you’re going through the adversity that some of these people are going through, the least we can do is just show up for them. she says.

For her part, 8-year-old Emily Morton said she hopes many people come to see what she and other CareArtists have created, but either way the experience has been therapeutic. “When I do my painting, I feel good,” she said. “I don’t feel like people who suffer. I don’t feel like my arms hurt and my legs hurt. I just feel happy.

For more information on the Care on Canvas Art Show and Marketplace, visit the event page at care about Canvas Art Exhibition and Market.

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