Enrichment Program | Creative Arts

The Creative Arts Program is a collaboration between Child Life Services and the Art Program at Boston Children’s. We provide engaging, innovative, and uplifting arts experiences that support our many patients and families throughout their hospital experience.

Why art?

The arts in its many forms — visual, music, prose, poetry, multimedia — provides opportunities for self-expression, connection, and exploration. In the hospital setting, engaging in arts activities has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, lessen the need for pain medication, and alleviate boredom.

Our leadership

Kirsten Getchell is a clinical and program manager for the Child Life Department at Boston Children’s. In her role, she oversees child life staff, music therapists, artists-in-residence, child life art cart staff, and Seacrest Studio staff. Kirsten also works closely with the Laughter League Clown Program to ensure programming reaches patients and families in inpatient settings, clinics, and throughout the hospital.

Elisabeth Gordon is the art program manager at Boston Children’s. In her role, she oversees the many paintings, sculptures, and multi-media installations that brighten the lobbies, corridors, and patient rooms. She especially enjoys helping patients and visitors find fun and meaningful ways to interact with the artwork.

The Creative Arts Program is happy to offer volunteer opportunities. We have weekly volunteer positions with the art cart, artists-in-residence, MyMusicRx Volunteer Music Program, and volunteer photography program. For more information about volunteer opportunities please visit Volunteer Services.

How to contact us

To schedule a visit with one of our artists-in-residence, music therapists, or the art cart, please contact your child life specialist or email arts@childrens.harvard.edu.

To find out more about our visual arts program, or to inquire about donating a work of art, please email arts@childrens.harvard.edu.

Our Programs

Artists-in-residence

 

Our artists-in-residence provide fine and expressive art encounters at patients’ bedsides and in clinical settings. Since January 2011, Boston Children’s has employed a team who offer creative writing, video making, painting, cartooning, arts history, and visual arts activities.

Together, they provide artistic opportunities on all inpatient units, all intensive care units, dialysis, the outpatient infusion center, primary care, the ninth-floor family resource room, the inpatient psychiatry unit, at Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot, and at Boston Children’s at Waltham.

Projects include creative writing, poetry, video art, origami, digital art, cartoon art, collage and mixed media art, sculpture, and jewelry-making.

Tim Estiloz, cartooning
Tim has an associate’s degree in Illustration and Graphic Design from the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh. His illustrations and cartoon work have been published in The Boston Phoenix, Nashua Telegraph, El Planeta, Bay State Banner, NOW Comics, and numerous other publications, as well as by a variety of greeting card and comic book companies. He is a published children’s book illustrator, where his skill with traditional hand-rendered art has been highlighted. Tim is also very active in the comic book art community, often exhibiting and creating his artwork at comic book conventions throughout New England for a growing following of fans of his illustrations.
Ginny Lewis, creative writing
Ginny is a writer and a local educator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and romance languages from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in child development from Tufts University. In addition to her 15 years of experience as a classroom educator, Ginny is a certified child life specialist and is currently working towards a certification in narrative medicine through Columbia University. Ginny is a member of the advisory board for Fundacíon PLAY, an early education initiative within Andalusia and Spain. She is also the founder and executive director of Writers Incorporated, a nonprofit dedicated to providing hospital-based writing and book publishing opportunities to patients and families.
Laki Vazakas, video making
Laki is a video maker who has been instrumental in developing the digital storytelling process with patients and families at the hospital. He has also created collaborative video projects with women in recovery, refugees, adults living with mental illness, and returning veterans. His videos have been screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Cinematheque, and the Venice Biennale’s Retrospetiva.

Art Gallery

Our diverse art collection plays an important role in creating an uplifting and healing environment. A rich variety of artworks — paintings, sculpture, fused glass, kinetic, and interactive pieces — fills the public spaces and corridors with visual delight.

In clinical settings, the art becomes a way to distract and relax patients so procedures go more smoothly.

The work in our collection is often original and custom-made to meet hospital standards. Highlights include a sculptural piece made from recycled MRI material, light works using specialized prisms, a two-story media wall that displays interactive graphics, and a musical staircase.

Rotating art exhibitions

We offer a changing art program throughout our Longwood campus.

  • Farley B, Fresh Food Court
  • Farley 1, across from cashier’s desk
  • Farley 1, near Volunteer Services
  • Main 1, hallway near Radiology
  • Main 9, East Classroom
  • Kool Kidz Corridor, between cashier’s office and shuttle stops
  • Fegan 1, near CVS
  • Au Bon Pain
  • 1295 Boylston St. main lobby

Art Cart

The art cart provides artistic opportunities for patients on all inpatient units, all intensive care units, dialysis, the outpatient infusion center, primary care, the emergency department, day surgery, and at the Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot health center.

The art cart is staffed by two child life art specialists who provide expressive and therapeutic art activities as a way of normalizing the hospital experience. They provide age- and culturally-appropriate projects that can be modified to meet the needs of every individual.

Art projects are crafted in the playroom or brought to the bedside for patients who cannot leave their rooms. The art specialist creates monthly themes to engage patients and introduce them to varied artists and different types of media. Themes have included nature, art movements, travel, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, and medical art. Projects include painting, collage, sculpture, mixed media projects, and many more. Any patient not able to be seen at a regularly scheduled time can be seen during referral time.

Every month, an artist of the month is acknowledged and celebrated for their love and enthusiasm for art. The art specialists also host art parties where patients and families are invited to come together to create art.

Michelle Dean-Onabajo
Michelle is a certified child life specialist who has been working at Boston Children’s since 2012. Michelle plans and implements developmentally appropriate therapeutic art activities for patients. The activities are provided at bedside and in the playroom in inpatient units and outpatient clinics.
Lynne Long
Lynne is a certified child life specialist who has been working at Boston Children’s since 2006. Lynne visits inpatient and outpatient units at the hospital, where she offers the opportunity to have fun and heal through art by providing developmentally appropriate and therapeutic activities to patients and families. She also plans hospitalwide events such as art parties, which give patients and families the chance to create art in a social atmosphere.

Our community partners

In addition to hospital staff, the Creative Arts Program also welcomes the support of volunteers and community partnerships. Local artists, musicians, museums, and camps visit the hospital on a regular basis to support our patients and families in a creative way.

MyMusic Rx

MyMusicRx brings local musicians into the hospital environment to provide environmental and experiential music activities. Our MyMusicRX volunteers play and perform music in a variety of locations throughout the hospital. MyMusicRX volunteers work closely with our child life specialists and music therapists to offer an ideal musical experience for patients and families while they are visiting the hospital. To learn more about the MyMusicRx Volunteer Program, contact Kirsten.Getchell@childrens.harvard.edu.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston

The ICA’s Health and Social Service Youth Partnerships enable the museum to make a greater impact in Boston neighborhoods by offering hospital patients access to contemporary art experiences. These experiences take the form of studio lessons, developed by teaching artists, that focus on contemporary art. Through the ICA’s partnership with Boston Children’s, patients participate in an open studio space that supports and encourages their creativity via direct encounters with art making and discussion.

For more information about this program contact the ICA’s Community Outreach Coordinator at cthervil@icaboston.org.

Learn more about the ICA.

Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston

Artful Healing, a program of the MFA, offers art-making activities to patients and their families at Boston Children’s. These art workshops are inspired by the MFA’s world-renowned collections and provide a fun and creative experience for participants undergoing medical treatment.

Each workshop begins with a slideshow of images from the MFA’s collection, chosen to focus around a particular theme, ranging from animals to ancient jewelry. Participants have an opportunity to “explore” the MFA and connect with artworks and then make art in a hands-on activity related to what they have seen. From Chinese brush painting to sculpting with clay, the activities are varied and use studio-quality art materials. The result is a beautiful piece of art the patient can keep.

MFA Artful Healing instructors are trained and experienced art educators who collaborate closely with hospital staff and will adapt to any specific needs. Scholarships to MFA studio art classes and admission passes are also available to interested families.

Learn more about Artful Healing.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

The Hospital Outreach Program (HOP) allows us to bring the joy and fun of Hole in the Wall beyond the camp grounds to children and families in a hospital setting. Taking the activities and experiences of camp and transporting them to kids’ bedsides and playrooms, the program helps restore friendship and laughter in a time of fear, stress, and uncertainty.

From arts and crafts to interactive games, HOP activities are inspired by the summer camp program, but are specially adapted to each unique hospital and clinic setting. And just like at camp, all interactions are child-driven, restoring choice — something children undergoing medical treatment so often lack.

Learn more about the Hospital Outreach Program.