Pediatric Patients Show Off Their Creativity at Art Day

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Event Features Hospital Gown Fashion Show and Self-Portrait Series

By Abigail Mortimore on October 03, 2012

The courtyard of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital was transformed for a red-carpet event last week to show off patient-designed hospital gowns at the Third Annual Art Day.

Models — better recognized in their day jobs as UCSF medical and administrative staff — strutted down the runway in creative designs inspired by superheroes and sea creatures to kick off an event showcasing the artistic creativity of the pediatric patients.

Organized as an opportunity to honor patients as artists and designers, Art Day features the work created through the hospital’s art therapy program, which provides patients and their families an artistic outlet to work through the stress of their illnesses and give a voice to unexpressed thoughts and emotions.

“Tapping into the creative process can help the children and their families find another way to communicate and better cope with their hospital experience,” said Suzanne Yau, UCSF art therapist and program director. Yau encourages patients to use creative tools for self-expression in group and one-and-one sessions.

As one of the featured events during Art Day, the hospital gown fashion show was conceived as a way to involve the entire hospital community. Patients prepared their designs “Project Runway” — style by first sketching ideas on paper then bringing their sketches to life by using various materials to make their own unique hospital gowns. The runway show was streamed live on patient room televisions, and models also paraded through the hospital to visit those patients not able to leave their rooms.  

Inspiration for the designs came from what is important to each child, according to Yau. This could be anything from capturing how they are feeling to favorite sports teams to favorite colors.  

Also featured during Art Day was the debut of newly framed patient art on the walls of the hospital. Covered in brightly colored wrapping paper, the self-portrait series was officially unveiled by patients and the UCSF Child Life Services staff after the hospital gown fashion show. In the series, patients captured themselves as healthy and playing with their siblings, as a future NBA star, as a video game designer and as a UCSF nurse — just to describe a few.

Additional drawings, photographs, paintings and sculptures created throughout the year were also on display in the All Stars technology room and playroom in the hospital.

The remainder of the day was dedicated to hands-on art activities for patients and families such as sidewalk chalk painting, mosaic art, badge making, photo booth sessions and rainbow wind chime making.

Photos by Susan Merrell