LifeLines: Community Art
Lois Stuart and Nina Koepcke
November 1997

by Rebecca Palmer

LifeLines is a community art program that provides art workshops for people in crisis caused by life threatening illness. The LifeLines workshops are conceived and coordinated by Lois Stuart and Nina Koepcke who are members of SBWCA. The workshop team includes six artist/facilitators: two visual artists, three literary artists and one theatre artist.

The 1997 Spring Workshops were held at the Cancer Support and Education Center in Menlo Park, Ca. For ten Tuesday nights the Center was recreated as an arts laboratory where the subject was healing and the process was art. Group and individual projects integrated visual, written and theatre media. The team of artist/facilitators believed the workshop would provide new tools to bring some order into lives that have been disordered by living with life threatening illness.

The Body/Map project addresses the personal issues of self identity which are diminished in a time of crisis such as cancer. The life-size outline of the body serves as a container/environment for the memories, hopes, dreams and visual images that people associate with their identity.

Body Maps (from left): "Bows and Veils" "What's Important to Me" "Race Car Driver" "Swimmer"

Many workshop participants wrote poems and short stories.

Writings from the LifeLines Project

A Survivor's Viewpoint                          

Challenges anew                                                 
     Challenging you                                                    
Anguish at thought                                                      
     of days that may be lost                                                   
Neutral -- never                                        
     it's emotional fever
Choices I have some
     though once I thought I had none
Energy I've lost
     to be regained at cost
      the reward for all
          the upheaval
                        by Irene

The Shell

This shell has given life to many
     It has aged over time
It has lived in many seas and oceans
It has left decay near and far
It has died and was washed to shore
This shell sits in my hand today
Giving life to many

by Sarah

Once upon a time the koi decided to band together to protest their abhorrent conditions.  
They were not being fed on a regular basis, the water sometimes got very murky and 
they always had to be on the look out for the octopus.

They called a meeting to discuss their grievances. The entire pond community showed up. There was Rolph, Antonia, Margo and her 3 small fry, Gigglesworth and Magnus. They elected Magnus spokesman and chief pond skimmer because he complained the most. All the other koi expected Magnus to do something to change their conditions. But what thought Magnus. All he really knew how to do was complain. He would go to Burpee, the resident bull frog. Everyone knows bull frogs have the biggest brains and the quickest tongues in the pond.
So Magnus made an appointment with Burpee. When they met, Burpee said indeed, he knew the solution to their problems.
by Kathy
Once upon a time I climbed into a cave. It was not a very large cave as far as I could see, but I heard running water, and curiosity told me to find its source. So I went in search of the source of the stream. As I went deeper into the cave I saw a glimmer of light. I followed the light and came to an opening. I was looking out when I saw the spirit of the bear, and he told me to follow the eagle. I soared out the opening and below was a landscape that astonished me. There were emerald mountains and azure lakes, and exotic flowers and birds of every kind. Every beautiful thought, hope and feeling was here. A feeling of security and love abounded. The bear appeared again and told me that all of this is inside of me. Everything I need is inside of me. If I look for it on the outside I will not find it.
by Brian

Partial funding for LifeLines is provided by: Montalvo Center for the Arts (Literary Arts Committee) , Cancer Support and Education Center, South Bay Area Women's Caucus for Art, Works/San Jose, Welch Communications, and numerous individual donors.

For more information on LifeLines see Outreach.

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