Masks of Hope and Healing – Now in Library

Masks of Hope and Healing:

Art Therapy with Pediatric Patients

The masks and photographs of masks in this gallery show were created by fifty artists who were pediatric patients at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in 2012. In some cases, close family members of the patients opted to participate in creating masks as well.  Every one of these patients was on what can be considered a hero’s journey and each had a story to tell about it. The masks they painted provided a symbolic way for them to tell their stories and hopefully will give you, the viewer, glimpses of their journeys.

The masks served as an Art Therapy tool by providing a space for the artists to express their widely diverse feelings and a medium through which their stories of hope, fear, confidence, confusion, courage, joy, doubt, awe, whimsy, and healing could be represented.  Their masks also provided a bridge between their inner feelings and outer expression and a way of transforming their challenges into allies for healing.

Mask-making provided an alternative form of communication through which the artists could expand their own abilities, re-build their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem, adapt to new conditions and surroundings, and safely retell their stories.  In many cases, their mask-making provided the artists with an enjoyable distraction from pain, stress, anxiety, and trauma, and allowed them the opportunity to confront their fears, exercise control, make independent choices, and enhance predictability, in a setting where there is, understandably, rare opportunity to do so.  In some cases, mask-making provided the artists a way to express physical aspects of their illness and pain and a protected place to safely retell their story and cope with their emotions.

For all the artists, the masks they created revealed more than they concealed, providing a visual legacy, a record of some essential part of each artist’s courage and determination to transform adversity into hope and healing on their hero’s journey.

- Lucy Barbera, PhD Medical Art Therapist Golisano Children’s Hospital

For information on showing your artwork at Upstate Medical University’s Health Sciences Library, please contact Olivia Maggio at

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