Upcoming Art Show Spotlights Riley Artists

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Some people strive to create an interesting or attractive image when they construct a piece of art.

But, for 19-year-old cystic fibrosis patient, Kelsey Wilson, the process of creating prompts a feeling of salvation, enabling her to make a statement only she feels she has the power to make.

Wilson, who checks into the Riley at IU Health each month to be monitored for her disease, has participated in the hospital’s art therapy program for the last three years. She says the art therapy program, which strives to engage and inspire Riley at IU Health patients with art during their time in the hospital, has been a supportive tool for her throughout her health journey. “It’s hard having CF. Winter is the worst season. The cold gets to my lungs, so I have to stay inside all the time, but art helps. I’ve loved art since I was a little girl,” shares Wilson, “since I could first pick up a pencil—it has always been something that has made me happy.”

To showcase the pieces of Riley at IU Health patients like Wilson, the hospital is hosting an upcoming art show. The Inaugural Art Therapy Exhibition will take place in the Simon Family Tower Main Lobby of the Riley at IU Health on Friday, October 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Art keeps my mind focused on the good things and not the bad, like my illness,” Wilson says. “I created my piece for the show because family means a lot to me and it’s a huge part of my life--and Riley at IU Health has always been just like family to me when I’ve been sick.”

Wilson’s art show submission is a testament to her strength as a CF survivor and what it means to struggle with the disease. “For me, it represents what cystic fibrosis is all about—the everyday experience, the treatments and the pills. It’s a representation of what I have to endure,” she explains.

Some of the innovative ingredients Wilson used in her piece: a medicine cup (representing, she says,” the handfuls of pills I need to take morning, noon and night”) a nebulizer (like the inhaler she uses to deliver drugs to her lungs up to three times a day), syringes, and a hospital identification bracelet . Wilson also used a concrete on her creation to adhere the items together, (similar to what’s used to grout tile).

“Every time I look at my piece, I see cystic fibrosis. The objects represent what my life is like with the disease and the concrete represents the mucus in my lungs and how hard it is for me to breath,” Wilson says. “I created this piece is in memory of my friend, fellow CF fighter and art therapy patient: Kylie N. Johnson.”

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