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Gallery to feature art by Cardon Children's patients

Art of Healing Artist Tom Cooper, left, talks to Cardon Children's patient Hunter Wasson.  

MESA, Ariz. (Feb. 27, 2012) -- Technically, Tom Cooper’s title is “teaching artist.” But he prefers a different name.

“Really, I’m a curator,” he said. The Phoenix artist visits Cardon Children’s Medical Center once a week to lead patients in art therapy in partnership with Young Arts Arizona. He sets up shop in the fifth floor playroom every Monday to provide art projects for any child who feels well enough to participate.

The art pieces are then displayed at locations across the Valley. Being a real gallery artist is a big draw for the kids.

“When I introduce this to patients, and tell them it will be on display for the public to view, they jump out of their beds,” said Cardon Children’s Child Life Assistant Julie Anich. “Usually their art pieces end up on the refrigerator.”

Art works from previous patients will be on display starting March 2 at the Purple Space Gallery in a show called, “The Art of Healing: Art by children who are hospitalized at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.” A reception that is open to the public will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. that evening.

During a recent visit, Cooper brought pastel crayons and water color in a spray bottle. Hunter Wasson, 10, of Gilbert, created several pieces, ranging from abstract scribbles to colorful depictions of lightning striking in the desert. Each piece was signed by the artist and hung up on the wall of the play room.

The art projects act as a stress reliever for many kids, Anich said.
“It takes them to a place that’s not as anxious,” she said. “It’s very relaxing.”

Cooper has been visiting Cardon Children’s since October, and says the kids aren’t the only ones who learn.

“I’m being taught as well as teaching,” he said. “It is a wonderful sense of doing good – that’s a very rewarding aspect of it.”

Young Arts Arizona is a nonprofit organization dedicated to exhibiting children’s art, especially children who are hospitalized, abused, homeless or otherwise at risk. The artwork is shown in 25 public galleries throughout metro Phoenix and Tucson. Purple Space in Phoenix is the home gallery for Young Arts. For more information, visit

“The Art of Healing: Art by children who are hospitalized at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.”
Friday, March 2
5:30 to 7 p.m. opening reception
Purple Space Gallery, 2009 N. 7th Street, Phoenix 85006

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