Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) is about to get even more bright and colorful! A new position, titled Artist-in-Residence, has started at TSRHC through our Child Life department. Brenton Black will be working with the hospital’s in-patients to beautify the campus with unique pieces of art as a way to let the patients express themselves and use art as a means of therapy.
Get to know a little bit more about Brenton in our Q&A and view photos from his recent sky bridge mural project with TSRHC patients:
The Artist-in-Residence position is new to TSRHC. What do you plan to do at the hospital?
This is the first year of the Art-in-Residence program. My plan is to first make art with the children of the hospital. I want them all to explore their creativity without boundaries and restraint. I give direction and leave them to create their vision. This allows each kiddo to express themself. Often we as adults try to control and steer kids and each other into our lane. I want to make sure each child is “talking” and expressing their unique story. I want each child to see its work being recognized and “listened” to. This builds confidence and a sort of fearlessness when it comes to expression.
My second mission is to have the entire hospital recognize these young voices. We want a body of artwork from the patients to be displayed, marveled and valued. This will be made whole by collecting those works and putting them on display throughout the hospital and at art shows.
Tell us a little bit about your background as an artist?
Ironically I started my art career in a Child Life setting when I was three or four years old. My sister was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of four. My family was back and forth to a children’s hospital throughout her treatment. I was often at her bedside and kept active in their Child Life program. I actually have a few of the small paintings my sister and I created. I never stopped drawing and sketching. Through high school I sketched classmate’s portraits, football banners, cheerleading banners, entered local contest with the Mavs, Cowboys, etc.
Fast-forward to 2010…..I was working at the Fairmont Dallas where I met their Artist-in-Residence, Zach Saucedo. We talked and he viewed my sketch portfolio and told me to start painting. He gave me tips and advice, and from there I taught myself to paint.
Art is a therapeutic activity. Tell us how this helps our in-patients during their stay at TSRHC?
Art is very therapeutic. It allows you to escape your current situation mentally. The first time I broke open a fresh canvas at a bedside paint session, my paint buddy forgot her pain, procedure, and opened up verbally (something everyone said she wouldn’t do). I feel the program creates an immediate get-away from the stress of not being home and a creative break from the stress of the hospital stay.
What was the inspiration behind the mural by the skybridge?
The inspiration lies with the kids of Child Life. I asked each of them what they’d like to see, create and have on display. My first day in the Child Life playroom I painted a really cool Minion. So naturally they wanted more! The mine craft character was an addition requested by one of the older patients. The crayons were added to fit everything around TSRHC. I actually only did 30% of the work. The kids paint everything they could reach and I painted up high and did the black line work. Flowers, the big tree, melted crayons and handprints were all ideas of my little artists. I wanted it to still look like a construction zone but with a splash of happy. The construction zone feel lets people know of the hospital’s continued growth and advances. The playful colors remind all employees who the come to work for… THE KIDS. I will be adding a chalk board paint section for employees to sign and add to the creation. I want everyone involved!
We are working on individual paintings that will be displayed in the same sky bridge hallway, on the opposite wall as a permanent display. We also have a 4 foot by 4 foot painting that will hang in the Child Life Playroom. I am planning a sculpture project and will begin the staging process for getting a uniform art show together.
Stay tuned for more updates from Brenton and our talented young artists!