Recently, Snow City Arts presented the Kate Neisser Award (given annually to a person or organization for dedicated service to Snow City Arts) to a group of long-term students representing each of our partner hospitals throughout our 20 year history. Speaking for the group, and reflecting on her own experience as a student, patient, and artist is Brianna, who goes by the name Serenity. Here are some of her thoughts about the name, her experience, and receiving the honor:
“I chose the name Serenity because the word has always been meaningful to me. It is the state of calm and peace. My close friends have said I am like the peace in their lives because I have inspired them, can empathize with them, and provide them a comfort no one else has. Also, in times of depression or moments of anxiety, I would repeat the word to reach that state.
For those of us that struggle with chronic illnesses, serenity is hard to achieve. We can experience anything from severe pain, fatigue, and many other symptoms. When hospitalized, we may feel lonely in our struggles, misunderstood, pitied, and maybe even angry, resentful and worthless. I know I have harbored every one of these emotions either separately or all at once. On top of the pain, it just makes for a miserable day. The teaching artists of Snow City Arts have helped myself and others turn those miserable days around. Some of us, like me, enjoy creative writing while others are visual artists. No matter our method, I would safely say these mentors were more than a blessing. They have become our friends.
A fellow artist, Dahlia, stated, ‘I don’t know how I would have coped with some of the things I went through in the hospital without the escape and creative outlet that they [creative directors] brought to my bedside. They gave me something to look forward to while I was there.’ I can certainly agree with that last statement. Art can be so expressive of so many things, not just what the artist feels but his/her observations, advice and much more. In fact, our trials and experiences are often used as inspiration for our work. I am not a visual artist. I love creative writing. I have since I was young. Many of my poems have been inspired by my struggles with illness, along with depression and anxiety as well.
My fellow artists and I would like to thank Snow City Arts for this recognition. It is quite an honor to be admired for our art. We hope our words and visions inspire others to not only express themselves but to find their serenity. Know that who you are, what you know, what you experience, what you know, what you seek to know, and, most importantly, the peace you gain is a blessing to others and yourself. Personally, this honor is too big for just me. Instead, I share it with those who have shared my pain yet removed my sorrow; those who have never doubted my potential and talent and only question the inspiration of my poetry. My fellow artists and I also thank Snow City Arts and the teaching artists for their time, effort and compassion towards the patients in all of the hospitals they serve. It is more than a gift to learn more about the arts and have the ability to express ourselves; it is a healer far stronger than any medication. Their teachers go above and beyond to continue being an inspiration, let alone just a part of our lives. Art is our serenity. There are no words to truly express how grateful we are for that.”
A short while after delivering the speech, Brianna was asked her thoughts about the experience, which she summed up this way:
“My experience at the anniversary gala was one I will never forget. I am blessed to have been a part of it. The venue was gorgeous. The food was amazing. Best of all, the people were incredible. Snow City Arts would not be the amazing, influential organization it is without such dedicated supporters. Thank you for such an opportunity. I hope to continue being a part of the organization and its cause. To current and future students, you can definitely find your serenity with them.”