For most of us, a lifetime of going to the hospital every three weeks would be an emotionally daunting task. Yet that’s the reality of students like Ajianette, who has been coming to the hospital for regular treatments for 12 of her 13 years.
Nearly eight years ago, Jia, as everyone calls her, started working with Snow City Arts. Over the years she’s worked with a dozen of our teaching artists, participated in 87 workshops and created more than 40 works of art.
“Jia is one of those students who is always curious and has an open mind when it comes to working on projects and exploring art mediums that she’s never worked in before,” says Snow City Arts media arts teaching artist Mikey Peterson. “She’s done everything from video, audio, animation, drawing and sculpting.”
While she doesn’t mind working by herself, Jia is also happy to collaborate with anyone who comes into the Snow City Arts Idea Lab at her hospital. She’s one of many students currently working on a large mosaic that will ultimately be installed on the pediatric floor. These types of projects create an environment where children can meet each other and work together, not something that often happens in the hospital.
“Jia will usually come to the art room before she even gets set up in her assigned hospital room. Nurses have to track her down to get her treatments going. She will work in the Idea Lab for the whole day if she isn’t interrupted,” says Allie Spicer, one of our visual arts teaching artists.
While Jia’s skills have grown immeasurably since she started working with Snow City Arts, she’s considered herself an artist from the first day. The best thing she’s learned about being an artist, she says, is that there are “no mistakes,” even when experimenting with new supplies, such as her favorite, Model Magic, a clay that teaching artists regularly use in the hospital.
“I didn’t think I’d like it at first. But I started playing with it and fell in love with it!” she says.
Her work certainly attests to this. Antoinette, her mother, is amazed by the number of pieces she’s created over the years and says Jia talks about her artwork all of the time. Antoinette says she’s glad that Jia can look forward to working with Snow City Arts as they head off for another treatment.
“Her artwork takes her mind someplace else, which is good on days that she gets worked up about going to the hospital,” Antoinette says.
The teaching artists at Snow City Arts look forward to visits from Jia as much as she looks forward to working with them. Spicer says that Jia has no fear of experimentation and “likes to get her hands dirty.” With a love for making art and an interest in exploring new techniques and any medium that is presented to her, it’s no wonder that Jia has gotten so much out of her many years working with Snow City Arts.