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Oklahoma artists make mural from OU Children’s Hospital patient designs

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Connect the people and connecting the pieces...

Two Oklahoma artists worked with 90 OU Children’s Hospital patients to create a new mural. The patients helped designed large puzzle pieces representing their stories, then their experiences and their pieces were connected to make a wall-sized mural at the hospital.

Art therapist Brittany Dray says projects like these are about more than just the final product though.

“It might be that we have someone who is struggling with coping in the hospital or who doesn’t have an outlet for their emotional expression or even just you know being able to have fun while they are in the hospital,” she says.

The theme for the project was connection, something that seemed fitting throughout the three years it took to make it a reality.

“This project really takes that to the next level. During the pandemic a lot of children and families didn’t really have that opportunity to connect about their experience so we wanted to do that in a visual way but also a therapeutic way,” Dray says.

Gabriel Friedman and Denise Duong both came into the hospital to work with patients, piece by piece.

“Getting kids involved on a big art project it can be very empowering for them,” Friedman explains. “It can make them feel like they are a part of something when a lot of times they aren’t allowed to be a part of things.”

Friedman says they assembled 7 pieces of plywood, cut them into pieces to take to each kid, then they were mailed back in four boxes and reassembled on a series of panels.

“I definitely lost sleep for a couple nights like right before I actually cut into the wood because I never made a giant puzzle before,” he says. “I stressed up until the moment that I I installed it on the wall.”

Duong then painted a mural which scrolls atop the work of the children.

Replica tabletop-sized boxed puzzles are available to purchase here, with all proceeds going to fund future art programs for the children.


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