Thursday, June 10, 2010

Scavenger Hunt

Each week day afternoon, I offer an art group for patients, siblings and any other family members who might wish to attend. Coming after "rest hour," its a welcome activity, providing a chance for parents to chat and kids to get up to their elbows in whatever we're doing that day.

Yesterday we only had one child, eight year old Sonya whose brother has been hospitalized for some time. Sonya loves the art group. Lately, though, as her brother's days in hospital have accumulated, she seems restless. What to do? Organize a one person scavenger hunt!

I found some small give-away toys that we keep, hid them carefully and came up with a list of funny clues about where they were placed, ex.: "Where would you go for a good cup of tea? (Why the dollhouse in the shape of a teapot of course!) As I hid the toys, two more kids joined us, six year old Sam and nine year old Jamie.

As the kids worked out the clues, their smiles were contagious (I mean that in the best way possible.) The hunt went so well I decided to auction off all the "found" toys with Sage, Sam's mom as the auctioneer and using Monopoly money for the bidding process. The kids loved it, getting into bidding wars and flashing goldenrod and sky blue colored slips of paper. (I kind of worried that some administrator would hear the noise and think we were gambling!) When the last stencil set was auctioned to the highest bidder at $600, everyone sighed with relief (they all came out even), pulled out their dragonfly, star and ladybug stencils and began to paint.

In some ways setting up this show, "Striking A Balance," has been its own kind of scavenger hunt. I found an unexpected treasure in my e-mail box yesterday; a post by my friend Beth Rommel about my work in her words. What a gift that was, the opportunity to see myself through another's eyes. Thank you Beth.

A good many of the pieces in the show were created last year when we lost a number of beloved patients. At the end of my rope, I decided to make memorials for each child. I went to work, collecting materials and scavenging for fabrics and images that resonated with each of the children I was thinking of. I quilted pieces of fabric together in colors that I associated with each child and stretched those over a 6" x 6" x 2' frame. Early on, I realized I couldn't keep each of the pieces true to that child.  I had to go further than the notion of "their favorite color or toy." At that point,  I let go of the notion of portraiture and to my surprise, the true nature of the relationship I'd had with each one of them emerged.
Pictured above from top to bottom:
Fan, Please, 2010, ©Hannah Klaus Hunter
Zig-zag Path, 2010 ©Hannah Klaus Hunter
Change Your Buddha, 2010 ©Hannah Klaus Hunter


  1. Hannah...I LOVE THE POP!!! of these pieces..the richness of the color and the delightful dimensional additions...and they are so wonderful set off with the black ground.

    The scavenger hunt and the auction sound like 'best medicine'....terrific ideas.

  2. What a great way to process your feeling for each child lost. The pieces at the top remind me of stones on Jewish grave stones.

    Love the kids and the hunt!!! Great fun! Relief, Joy letting them get out of themselves for a bit.

  3. I love the pop too!! What a wonderful way to use your artistic gift--share it with children--just wonderful!

  4. Iona--What a great word: "POP"--it fits these pieces perfectly. And, the hunt was good medicine for all of us...

    Lynn--I'd never thought of that association with the stones before. Good one!

    Diane--Thank you--Definitely a case of who gets the most out of this: me or the kids?

  5. But it's a circle you get good things out of it and that in turn passes onto the children......fantastic .......and those memorial pieces are really special .....Jim's niece died 3 years ago (age 8)and strangely we have never thought of a memorial piece of art for her......I think this would be a wonderful thing to do.....xx

  6. Absolutely Lorna, a circle that goes 'round and 'round. Creating a piece for the young girl, Jim's niece, sounds like a powerful idea.
    I look forward to hearing about it.