The Dream Horse Project

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By: Ian Cion, Artist in Residence, Children's Cancer Hospital, MD Anderson

Through the Arts in Medicine Program at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, my goal is to help make art a meaningful part of the lives of our young patients. When I meet with patients, I try to find out their interests so I can integrate art with their other passions. This not only helps build enthusiasm in the patient about making art, but it also serves to integrate a positive part of their personal world into their hospital experience.  

One great example of this process is the Dream Horse Project, created in collaboration with Maria Munoz, a talented young adult stem cell transplant patient who I began working with in May 2010.  

I had just finished working with a patient in The Park at MD Anderson when Maria introduced herself to me. She told me that she liked to draw but as her work obligations increased, she had less of a chance to do so. I offered to work with her while she was at MD Anderson for her stem cell transplant.

During our first art session, she told me about her love of horses and showed me a photograph of her horse. As her treatment prohibited her from coming in contact with her horse, she was feeling a real sense of loss and greatly missed both the companionship and the responsibilities. 

With this in mind, Maria and I began a series of drawings based on and inspired by the idea of eventually body-painting one of her horses. By setting a large-scale, long-term goal and establishing time each week to work towards this goal, the Arts in Medicine Program served as an integral part of making Maria's experience at MD Anderson a positive one. Over the course of the three-month project, even her doctors began to notice a difference in how she coped with her treatment.

One of the objectives of our program is to implement art projects that are grand in scale so that we can help expand patients' understanding of what is possible for them to accomplish, both as artists and as individuals. I have shown other patients photos and video footage of Maria's horse. When they see the scope of her project, it opens up the possibilities for what we can create in collaboration going forward.

Ian Cion Artists In Hospitals Blog

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