All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for June 2003

Art beauty helps patients recuperate

Saturday, June 07, 2003
By Walter Skiba
Times Correspondent

For nationally renowned artist Carole Kortenhoven Boller, art means more than fashioning images and winning awards, though she has won her share. It also means something restorative and recuperative.

Now a resident of Newport Beach, Calif., Boller was born in Harvey, Ill., grew up in South Holland, and has lived much of her adult life in Crown Point and Lowell.

"I love wide open spaces," she says.

To fill needs vacated by cutbacks in National Education Association funding, she has recently created Art for All, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs for individuals with physical, mental and psychological challenges.

A couple of weeks ago, she conducted a workshop for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Twenty-one California children who have a parent afflicted with MS participated.

"I had them prepare spirit boxes -- for wishes, dreams and worries -- and decorate them with paint and lost and found objects," she says. The children also had their questions about MS answered.

Earlier this year, Boller worked at the Santa Monica Cancer Center, painting murals on walls, ceilings and even steel doors to help create a welcoming atmosphere and contribute to the center's healing powers. Using the theme of a Santa Monica beach scene, she painted umbrellas as a background for "Danger-Radiation" signs and painted a variety of cloud formations on ceilings.

"Patients often lie on their backs for treatments," she said of the center, which has an 80 percent recovery rate.

Boller travels to Northwest Indiana at least twice a year.

In January she gave the keynote address at a workshop for teachers, sponsored by Ball State University and conducted in its botanical garden.

"I drew parallels between teaching and gardening," she says, "how flowers and students bloom at different times that are natural for them, and how important it is for teachers to know what is right for each student."

She conducted a disability awareness class later that day.

"I gave the teachers some challenge, such as glasses that made them see worse, earplugs, or socks to cover their hands."

On Sept. 9 in Indianapolis, Boller will lead the visual arts segment of "A Day for the Arts," a workshop for physically, emotionally and mentally challenged K-12 students organized by Indiana first lady Judy O'Bannon.

Boller might make use, she says, of the "Bubble Paint Project" she designed and which O'Bannon praised for its unique approach to learning. Boller mixes pigments of yellow, magenta, turquoise and other colors into an Ivory soap solution. Children blow the painted bubbles and their classmates catch them on paper.

The children then paint smiley faces or other things.

"The process is more important than the product," Boller says.

A graduate of Calumet College of St. Joseph with a major in Fine Arts/Art Education, Boller has completed 21 hours of graduate work at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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