My steady job for the last 4 years has been making art with medically fragile technology dependent children and staff at Bancroft Voorhees NJ. These children are in wheelchairs and hooked to machines that beep and flash lights. All are non verbal and few can use their hands. When you take the time to be in the moment with them they do show joy. ….a good deal of joy! The totem project is a way to celebrate the joys of children that passed recently. This project is administered by yanjep.org.
We started by making handmade tiles of images that reminded the staff of the things that gave these children joy. It was such a gift for me to hear all the stories. Some teachers and staff have known these kids since preschool. The kids of course can’t make these themselves. I am the “art facilitator”for the kids and also the staff. These children respond to touch and sound mostly. When they can make choices in a way I can understand I go with it. I have a familiarity with the way they communicate and do the best I can to hear them. Many smile hearing my voice and so many react to touching materials. Touch is such a big part of their experiencing the world and a sense we often neglect. I’ve found that a good deal of patience and just being there and present goes a long way with these particular kids.
tomorow they come out of the kiln