'Big Top' event celebrates new patient-created mural

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mural.JPGHorses, circus performers, musicians and a crowd of pediatric patients and their families -- it was a grand way to unveil a larger-than-life mural adorning the outside wall of MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Spanning 100 feet wide and 8 feet tall, the canvas of 25 galloping horses stands as a sign of hope created from the hands of more than 75 pediatric patients and their families at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital.

Performers with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus® kicked off the event with a special show for patients in Clark Clinic lobby, while Beads of Courage® staff members passed out beads to celebrate the patients' strength through cancer. When it was time to unveil the masterpiece, MD Anderson volunteer Mark Scheinbaum played his accordion as the clowns paraded the crowd out to see the mural.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed, recognizing the artists who worked on the mural. Bone cancer patient Julia Cobb and her siblings, Jenna and Jonathan, were selected and honored as winners of the mural naming contest with their submission of Light, Hope, Wonder. 

Making of the mural
The Light, Hope, Wonder mural was inspired and created by patients. When a construction wall was put up next to the entrance of the Integrative Medicine Center, patients started remarking on its drab appearance.

Andrea Warren, program manager at the center, and Gabriel Lopez, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of General Oncology, decided to do something about it. They contacted Ian Cion, program director of the Arts in Medicine Program at the Children's Cancer Hospital, and soon a creative idea was put into action.
Cion started the project by collecting traditional artwork created by the patients. Then he digitally archived the art and worked with patients using his specially designed digital art cart to transform their creations into coats of colors for the horses.

After three months of work, the finished product is a masterpiece for patients and visitors to enjoy. It will be on display through the fall, until the construction project is complete.


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