The scene outside of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center on Thursday afternoon was a miniature circus. Literally.
Face-painted clowns and performers from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus joined pediatric patients and hospital representatives in unveiling Light, Hope, Wonder, a patient-produced mural outside of the hospital's main entrance.
The piece depicts 25 galloping horses, adorned with creative doodles, swaths of bright patterns and neon hues that would easily win Lisa Frank's seal of approval.
The result is a vibrant, energetic piece; one in which the young artists were involved every step of the way.
It is a labor of love, created over the course of two and a half months from the drawings and the input of 75 children — patients and their siblings — under the supervision of artist and Arts in Medicine Program director Ian Cion.
The result is a vibrant, energetic piece; one in which the young artists were involved every step of the way, from creating original artwork to overlaying those designs onto the horses.
"I think of [the patients'] art as if they are my collaborators," Cion told CultureMap. Collaborators that just happen to be kids, some of them sick.
The project was facilitated by a digital mobile art cart, invented by Cion, that can be moved around to different rooms and to patients' bedsides. This makes it possible for young artists to continue to work even while they are undergoing treatment.
At the grand unveiling, M.D. Anderson patient Julia Cobb and her siblings, Jenna and Jonathan, wielded the scissors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony — a privilege earned when their proposed artwork title was selected in a contest.
"I think of [the patients'] art as if they are my collaborators," Cion told CultureMap.
Other pediatric patients ventured outside to watch the clowns and listen to the accordion. An ebullient Cion greeted each of his young friends by name, leading them to the spot on the wall where their artwork was displayed.
Cion, who joined M.D. Anderson about two years ago, described plans to work with patients on a feature-length film and interest in getting more of the children's artwork on display and out into the community.