Painter Without Borders


It only takes a moment...

The Painter Without Borders Program was established in 2016 when an established art therapist teamed up with a local artist and grass roots non-profit to create a pop-up studio in the heart of the cancer community at Massachusetts General Hospital. What began as a one time spontaneous celebration of color, texture, and energy has become a weekly mainstay at two of the country’s most established hospitals. The concept is simple - Art is a universal language, it can bridge cultural boundaries and facilitates healing. By setting up an easel, this pop-up studio opens the door to meaningful interactions with patients, families, doctors, nurses, and volunteers in any setting, at any moment. 

If you want to capture the moment, take a picture…

If you want to be the moment, paint!

Today there was a gentleman in a stretcher at the MGH Cancer Center. He was incredibly patient. He looked fragile. I was painting only 20 feet from him, in my usual spot on the 7th floor of Yawkey. But he was facing the other way. So I brought over a small, square, piece of wood that I brought along with five colors - black, yellow, green, blue, and white. I walked over and sat down right next to him. He looked over at me, so I said, 'Do you mind if I ask you a question?' He said he didn't mind. So I said, 'Let's see how many colors I can put down until you guess what I'm painting. And I won't even use a brush.' He smiled at me. So I laid down the black. Then the yellow. and he smiled again. I added the green. 'It's a sunflower!' he exclaimed. A little white, a bit a blue, and the next thing I knew we had been talking for a half an hour about his father graduating from the New England Conservatory and how he inherited that love of music to play the piano for over 50 years. He told me he was just here getting fixed up and when he's better he'll come out to Rockport to visit me. As he told me these things, his eyes lit up and he leaned toward me. He was the opposite of fragile. Such was his strength that it lifted me up and such was his presence that I won't forget him. It takes five colors for me to paint a sunflower. But it only takes one moment to be humbled by the strength it takes to travel the cancer journey.

The Painter Without Borders Program is run entirely through your generosity, with support and funding from the Conquer Cancer Coalition, Jonathan the Painter, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and our extended family and friends across the globe. When we walk the cancer journey, we never walk alone.