The Healing Power of Art



Beauty begets health and healing. It is something that our ancestors realized, and something that modern science is proving to this day. Research indicates that viewing art raises our levels of serotonin to offer a boost to our mood. A neurobiologist with the University of London, Semir Zeki, scanned the brains of people as they viewed 28 works of art. While the people viewed paintings that they found “beautiful,” the brain triggered an immediate release of dopamine- a chemical related to feelings of love and pleasure.

Other research has shown that beautiful art in a patient’s world can speed recovery times, reduce the need for pain medication, lower blood pressure and more.

When a child is ailing, the whole family needs a boost, and this art brings that boost through the eyes and image of the very child they are all fighting to help.




Kinsley, Kelly & Katherine

Kinsley’s family learned about her tumor in the first year of her life. Through love, commitment, and hard work, Kinsley’s parents have made her world special. When Sparrow Clubs, USA nominated Kinsley for a portrait, her mom told us that Kinsley’s tumor had taken her sight. We were honored to commission a brilliant portrait by Katherine Taylor. Katherine said that her tears of compassion worked their way into the very spirit of her portrait and impacted her life.


And, we knew there was more to do! With the help of our artist team, we found a 3-D artist who would create a portrait that Kinsley could “see” with her hands - a sculpture. The artist was Kelly Thiel, who told us she sat before the clay for hours before her emotions allowed her to begin creating. Little did we know just how impactful this portrait would be. It turns out… that Kelly had recently lost her own mother to a brain tumor similar to Kinsley’s.

The world is full of cycles of healing. Kinsley’s parents say that their two portraits are worth a million dollars. Kinsley likes to sit on the floor with her little friend- the sculpture. And this story of healing comes full circle!




“We would love to participate in creating awareness for kids and individuals like our child in our community. A portrait to commemorate this time in our lives is priceless as our family grows and learns how to navigate life with a child who has mobility needs.”

“Our portrait is a treasure! We hung it where it is the first thing I see in the morning, and it gives me the strength to get through treatments, doctors, bills, and emotions.”

“Our son’s syndrome is terminal. Many children don’t survive past the age of 10. Pictures are all we will have at some point. A painting is that much more special.”

“I think this portrait will touch several more hearts and show a different side of our daughter. It will also get her story out there in the community - how strong and beautiful she is.”

“This is a reflection for us of the hope, love, and prayers that we endured to get to this point… a true symbol of hope.”

“We are so touched to be able to participate and we think this awareness is so important to the community and our children!”

“My daughter, is a joy and inspiration to our family. To have a lasting painting that captures her incredible beauty is such a blessing and a reminder of her journey and determination.”

“I think this project is amazing in recognizing the extra challenges that families with special needs children face every day. Our child is a joy, happy and growing, and works hard at all her therapies to continue to make progress. The biggest contribution of a portrait for us is in building community support and understanding for intellectual and physical disabilities.”



Thanks again for this amazing opportunity for these families. I know a beautiful portrait is a treasure to them.”

~Nancy Childers, Regional Director, Sparrow Clubs USA

“Through healing portraits, art brings beauty, color, and joy to people recovering from an illness. These portrait paintings lend strength and encouragement to loved ones as well.”

~ Brooke Walker-Knoblich, Artist

“The arts – including painting, drawing, ceramics, dance, music, theater, or writing — are an important method of providing healing, hope, respite, and joy to individuals and families, and they serve to bring communities together through meaningful shared experiences.”

~ Beth Bienvenu, Accessibility Director, National Endowment for the Arts

“At Children’s Cancer Association, we place tremendous value on providing joy to seriously ill kids, teens, and their families. So many families find joy in art, and all families find joy in their children. Portrait Connection is a fantastic blend of both of those.”

~ Kacy Smerke, Senior Program Manager, Children’s Cancer Association