Creature Comforts provided a response to local healthcare providers’ desire to work with the Arts Center and the community on a project assisting patients in the recovery process and integrating the arts into healthcare settings. The first part of a two-part residency featured fiber artist John Murphy. Murphy worked for two weeks with cancer patients and community participants to construct creatures to be donated to an area hospital or clinic, held workshops to reach people going through treatment that may lack a support network, and assembled “creature kits” with all the necessary materials to complete a creature tummy pillow.
In part two of the residency, local cancer survivors collaborated over two months with acclaimed photographers John Shimon and Julie Lindemann to reflect on how they see the world from a new perspective. In a three-part workshop, participants gained skills in digital camera basics as well as online photo storing, sharing, and editing processes. Participants were asked to capture transformation in their lives due to their medical journey. At the final meeting, everyone gathered to share their personal experiences and to select images to be included in the exhibition. The project involved more than 200 participants and culminated in an exhibition that opened December 12, 2010. It showcased the thought-provoking images and recorded stories by workshop participants as well as six new portraits by Shimon and Lindemann. Also included were the lovable creature pillows and kits created during Murphy’s residency.
Connecting Communities collaborations are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust.