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Harlem Horizon: Celebrating the Healing Power of Art

By Kristin Sterling

On Feb. 26, artists who have created works through Harlem Horizon Art Studio will be honored at a reception, featuring music and dance by the Harlem Hospital Dance Leadership Program, Harlem School of the Arts, Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Team and Ballet Hispanico of New York.

The Harlem Horizon Art Studio, which offers an outlet for creative expression for patients at Harlem Hospital Center, as well as students and adults from the community, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with its annual exhibition in Columbia University's Low Library Rotunda. Since the studio opened in 1989, more than 1,600 children and 100 parents and other adults have participated in the program.

The exhibition "Art Is Healing: Twenty-two Pieces on the Seventeenth Floor" (which refers to the studio's location on the 17th floor of the Harlem Hospital) features mostly acrylic paintings and is on display through Feb. 29.

During the reception, the centerpiece of this year's exhibition, titled Artists Healing, will be unveiled. The painting, a collective effort of the program's current participants, was created under the direction of Orville Anderson, who was once a participant in the Harlem Horizon Art Studio Program and is currently serving as the program's director. The mixed-media piece includes buttons, hangers and spoons.

" 'Art Is Healing' represents all of the children in the program," said Anderson. "Each piece represents a child and has a story behind it. It shows what we do in the studio -- that we all pull together as a whole."

Anderson, now 31, first came to the Harlem Horizon Art Studio in 1991. He accompanied a friend who was being treated for sickle-cell anemia. As the friend gradually recovered and then returned to school, Anderson discovered his passion for art and continued to participate in studio events after school.

The15th-anniversary exhibition also includes pieces by Abraham Daniel, now a sophomore in college. Daniel joined the program at the age of 9, after falling three stories from a scaffold and sustaining a spinal injury. Despite the odds, Daniel battled back after being comatose for more than a month. Today he is able to walk with a cane and aspires to be an art therapist, having learned at first hand the therapeutic effects of making art.

"Abraham is the backbone of the Studio Program," said Anderson. "He has inspired a lot of children and me. He proves that things in life are hard, but if you believe it, you can achieve it."

The exhibition is sponsored by Columbia University's Office of Government and Community Affairs and is supported in part by Columbia Community Service, which distributes funds donated by University faculty and staff to community service programs in the neighborhoods surrounding the University.

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Published: Feb 26, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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