Portraits Help Children and Young Adults See Themselves in a Different Light

Oct 06, 2010, 14:41 ET from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Project is a One-of-a-Kind Partnership between The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and artists from Studio Incamminati

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group of artists, young people and medical experts are involved in a groundbreaking project at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that uses the intimate process of portrait painting to help children and young people with craniofacial problems see themselves in a different light.

For 13-year-old Emily, whose life has been filled with reconstructive surgeries and long stretches away from home, it was a chance "to be me." For veteran painter Robin Frey, the program was a special chance to marry the technical aspects of her craft with a sense of spirituality.

Face To Face: The Craniofacial Program Portrait Project, is an innovative collaboration between The Craniofacial Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Studio Incamminati, internationally renowned portrait artist Nelson Shanks' realist art school. Face to Face is the first of its kind in the U.S. The program assesses the experiences of children and adolescents with craniofacial problems by using a novel intervention – sitting for a portrait. It also scientifically documents the impact of the psychosocial functioning of the participants.

Eight portraits of patients ranging from age 7 to 25 have been completed and plans call for Face To Face to be a continuing project. In addition to adding to the scientific body of knowledge, the paintings will be exhibited publicly in Children's Hospital Colket Translational Research Building as part of the effort to highlight the challenges and strengths associated with living with a facial disfigurement.  

"It was an exciting opportunity to help young people view themselves in a more positive light, and at the same time we contributed to the science of helping individuals cope effectively with facial disfigurements. said Canice E. Crerand, Ph.D., psychologist in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Children's Hospital. One participant remarked, "It was like seeing myself, but not in the mirror. I liked what I saw." One child's mother said, "It made her feel unique... she was so proud of herself."

Linton A. Whitaker, M.D., senior surgeon at Children's Hospital, professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, and director of the school's Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance; Scott P. Bartlett, M.D., chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; and David B. Sarwer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine helped conceive and implement the project.

"This proves the transformative power of art," said Jay Pennie, executive director of Studio Incamminati. "It reminds us that, beyond our enjoyment of the finished painting, the very act of creating art can have a profound effect on those involved."

One of the artists, Steve Early, added, "I wanted to put the facial differences in the context of the whole person... to catch the spirit and beauty of this child, the hope and energy in her eyes."

The artists are Stephen Early, Robin Dawn Frey and Kerry Dunn, instructors at Center City realist art academy Studio Incamminati, and Studio alumnus Debbie Schafer. They were chosen in 2007 after careful screening by Dr. Crerand.

For more about the Face to Face Portrait Project, see http://bit.ly/bC7FIh.

The project was funded by a grant from The Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 460-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu.  

Studio Incamminati, founded by renowned Bucks County painter Nelson Shanks, is modeled on the traditional Italian accademia and French atelier systems of a master teaching the apprentice. Its artists have won numerous awards, been featured in the art magazines and books and have their artwork included in many collections. www.StudioIncamminati.org

The Edwin and Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance founded by Linton Whitaker was the first such multi-specialty center in a major academic setting devoted to all aspects of human appearance from cosmetic surgery to reconstructive trauma, cancer and birth-defect repair. www.pennmedicine.org/cha/index.html

Contact: Joey McCool Ryan

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

(267) 426-6070


Bill Wedo

Studio Incammanati



SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia