Kayla Marie E.
I’m Kayla Marie, a Filipinx-American who was born and raised in Hawaii. In this third year of my master’s degree, I am a student intern and an amateur sewist. The sewing machine I was given one wonderful afternoon is a hundred years older than me and then some. In both of these roles, I am learning and negotiating with a historical practice to see how I can take what is established and make it authentically my own.
When working at a children’s hospital, I saw many kids for just a few days to just a few weeks. Colors, shapes, and lines are all forms of communication and many clouds, suns, flowers, houses, and clowns were created as I sat beside their hospital bed. Each piece of art told its own story and echoed each other through the halls. Rain for one kid represented despair while another drew themselves dancing on top of blue puddles in celebration. My favorite aspect of my job quickly became asking, “will you tell me about it?”
Meanwhile, every day I was asking myself, am I being professional enough? Is what I am saying and doing with these kids making a difference? How can I help them in such a short time period? These were questions I had asked myself since I started this graduate program. At my internship, I use a standard wooden pencil that I sharpen every morning and keep in my left back pocket. It’s ready for me to reach for whenever I need to plan my schedule or make note of something for later. This is a ritual I have developed that has become so ingrained, that one day I had accidentally taken the pencil home and it felt like I had the entire hospital in my room. This feeling is common with many patients who discharge with medical items that their body needs. Hospitalization often becomes a life-changing event in a kid’s life and these objects can become a haunting reminder of that. Transitional objects are items that bring comfort and hold meaning to the child. A hospital itself is a transitional space and art therapy can provide venues to create transitional objects for patients during their hospitalization and after. The staff at my site does their best to turn a scary situation into one filled with joy and hope. It is this goal in mind that has helped me understand what holistic care can look like. In a setting where so much attention is being put onto stabilizing their physical body and health, I am able to connect with the person and focus on who they are in this moment.
In a very simple way this pencil is me, a budding professional who has written many pages and is learning from her mistakes. With a tip that has just begun to write and an eraser that has been well used, I witness these kids’ stories and honor their strength on my own canvas.