Anyone who knows anything about Houston knows that our city is famous for its massive, state-of-the-art Medical Center. Within the sprawling complex are so many children and families who benefit from the outreach program Art for the Mind and Spirit.
The MFAH works closely with Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, the Ronald McDonald House, and Shriner’s Hospital for Children to provide art programming and activities to the children being treated in each of the facilities. Art for the Mind and Spirit brings the museum—at least a small piece of it—into the community, providing comfort to the patients, their families, and caregivers.
4 Things to Know about Art for the Mind and Spirit
1) It’s all about art, self-expression, empowerment, and community.
Engaging with art allows children to be creative and gives them a little control over a part of their day.
“This feeling of accomplishment is so very important to children who are sick, as they often feel very disempowered. Art gives them the opportunity to make decisions and be in charge of some small part of their day.” —Carol Herron, arts in medicine coordinator, Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers
2) The challenges are unique.
The children are not always able to visit the museum in person, so Art for the Mind and Spirit has to be creative with its teaching materials. The hospital programs use small figurines, prints of paintings, and other materials that kids can touch and handle, creating a museum experience on-the-go.
3) It is not considered an art-therapy program!
The art activities used in Art for the Mind and Spirit are largely the same as the ones you’ll find at the museum.
“The goal is to create a family experience, and for the participants to be inspired by works of art.” —Kris Bergquist, MFAH family programs manager
4) Art outreach measures success in a different way.
Art for the Mind and Spirit celebrates its successes not in attendance numbers but in smiling faces.
“What I take away with me from every visit is the awareness of just how much the artistic process can affect a child’s mood in a positive way. I see their self-confidence increase and their spirits uplifted.” —Sandra Jacobs, MFAH teaching artist who facilitates programs at Texas Children’s and Ronald McDonald House