Apr 27, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Cancer Learning Center

During the month of May, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) patients, caregivers, and staff will exhibit artworks and photos created in the Artist in Residence program and the Photovoice with Adult Cancer Survivors study. The exhibit will be on display in the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, located at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. An opening reception will be held May 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

“The [Photovoice] participants are very excited about the exhibit and about having a larger audience learn about their experiences with cancer,” says Jennifer Mijangos, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, a social worker with HCI Patient and Family Support and one of the Photovoice facilitators. Geri Etringer, MSW, LCSW, also facilitated the program.

The Photovoice study, a collaboration between HCI Patient and Family Support and the University of Utah College of Social Work, explores how cancer can affect identity and personal development. In this study, cancer survivors use photography to share stories with peers who have had similar experiences.

“People have different communication styles and preferences. By using photography, people express their thoughts and feelings visually,” says Jaehee Yi, PhD, HCI investigator and principal investigator of the Photovoice study.

“Also, I believe Photovoice has an element of narrative therapy, which is a technique of separating the problem from the person,” Yi says. “By taking a photo about what they want to express and sharing and talking about it, Photovoice participants separate the problem from themselves. They usually find this process very therapeutic.”

The Photovoice study is completed, but the research team and facilitators are exploring the possibility of future Photovoice studies or photography programs.

Artist in Residence is a program offered through HCI’s Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center. The program features a local artist teaching workshops at HCI to patients, their families, and staff. Art projects run the gamut from paintings to ceramics to jewelry.

Patients in the Artist in Residence program say creating art takes their mind off the pain, grief, and stress of cancer.

But “it’s more than just a distraction,” says program participant Teri Kaplan. “It helps move you through cancer and past it.”

“You lose yourself and get totally involved in doing something that excites you and that you have passion for,” adds participant Neva Lewis.

Colour Maisch, the current Artist in Residence at HCI, says she is really excited for this year’s exhibit and the opportunity it gives for the artists to share their experiences with others.

“Artwork is a window into another’s experience of the world that the viewer may never know in any other way,” says Maisch. “Exhibiting art is a way to share those ideas, thoughts, and feelings. And, very simply, it is great to have one’s artwork celebrated through an exhibit.”

The Artist in Residence and Photovoice exhibit runs from May 1-31. For more information about the exhibit or the May 6 opening reception, contact Mara Carrasco at mara.carrasco@hci.utah.edu or 801-587-4585.

Cancer Learning Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute

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