Blooming Bodies

Blooming Bodies combines art-making and flower arrangement in a therapeutic and restorative workshop where cancer patients create their own wearable, living artwork.

Cancer patients at UM's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center undergo a sense of loss physically, as treatment potentially induces a loss of appetite, loss of hair, loss of blood through transfusion and psychologically as patients lose a sense of control over their bodies, daily lives, and identity. Blooming Bodies offers a transformative and transcendental opportunity for passive recipients of medical treatment to become actively engaged artists.

During the workshop, participants select flowers, cut stems, attach decorative elements, and arrange compositions to make floral art, taking form as a crown, bracelet, bra, belt, anklet, or piece for any affected physical spot or scar. In the process, participants manage their own procedures in a safe environment where judgment and failure are disallowed. As a product, the wearable flower arrangement becomes a subtle reprieve for the physical loss, fostering a beautiful sense of self-esteem.

The workshops are rooted in the evidence-based impact of creative “flow,” a self-motivating and rewarding engagement wherein people become intensely absorbed in a task that matches their competencies, reducing anxiety, slowing heart rate, and promoting mindfulness of the here-and-now rather than the “there-and-then” nature of illness and treatment. It invites the participant to partake in a productive and imaginative project that provides a sense of achievement and to experience engagement on a human level. It allows for conversation and encouragement rather than rumination about the stressful conditions of medical treatment. The creative process draws on the historical Japanese arts of Ikebana, a creative and symbolic form that uses plant materials to express awareness of nature and human life, combined with the benefits of arts-based therapy.

Funded by Miami, FL (March 2019)