“Art is therapeutic in that it provides an outlet for creativity.”
A former student who's using art to tackle cancer head-on is alumna Andrea (Andy) Cooper, who graduated from MICA in 1979 with a degree in general fine arts. Cooper, a breast cancer survivor herself, wished she had something to distract herself with during the long, dark days of chemotherapy over 13 years ago. So today, thanks to two grants, Cooper shares her art expertise with patients at outpatient chemotherapy units at Mercy Medical Center's Institute for Cancer Care and St. Joseph Medical Center's Cancer Institute in Baltimore. "Art is therapeutic in that it provides an outlet for creativity," Cooper said. "With these folks, it provides a very welcome aspect of distraction, and any aspect that brings people some happiness is good for the healing process."
Each week, Cooper makes her rounds in the hospitals with a cart full of supplies. "It's kind of like an art classroom on wheels, and I pretty much have it stocked with anything they could ever need," she said. Patients have worked on a variety of crafts that can be completed in one sitting, ranging from crepe paper flowers to paintings. "I think what drives me to do this is seeing the difference from when I sit down with someone to when I leave them," Cooper said. "I've had people tell me they had woken up that morning dreading coming to get chemotherapy and they never imagined they'd be doing something like this."