Documentary Series Explores Connections Between Art And Well-Being

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The WOUB Center for Public Media is launching a new documentary series entitled The Courage of Creativity. The concept grew from a desire to recognize the power of art programming to help individuals and organizations "imagine new normals" in the midst of uncertainty and vulnerability.

This trailer offers viewers a glimpse into the initial programs to be profiled in feature-length documentaries including the Arts in Medicine Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Collaborative Art International, and DooR to DooR. Although these programs differ in size, scope, and location, each offers participants opportunities to express themselves, connect with others, and develop resiliency in the midst of hardship.

How can the making and viewing of art help participants transform their social and physical realities? How can art programming unsettle habitual and stagnate patterns of organizing? How can the act of daily living be understood as art?

The Courage of Creativity series is inspired by these questions and follows artists as they use pencil and paper, photography, digital technologies, and music for recreational, vocational, and healing purposes.

Production Leadership Team

Lynn M. Harter is the Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. Guided by narrative sensibilities, her scholarly agenda focuses on the communicative construction of possibility as individuals and groups organize for survival and social change.

Her research and creative activity encompasses a range of issues including pediatric cancer care, disability-related concerns, the organizing of healthcare for underserved populations, poverty and homelessness.

She is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary The Art of the Possible, a film that chronicles the journeys of five families living with a member’s cancer, its treatment, and what remains in the aftermath. She has published over 75 journal articles and book chapters in interdisciplinary outlets and has edited three award-winning scholarly books.

Thomas S. Hodson is the Director and General Manager of WOUB Center for Public Media at Ohio University. He also is the Joseph H. Berman Professor of Communication in the Scripps College of Communication. Formerly, he was director of the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University from 2003-2010.

Hodson also served as a member of the Ohio University Board of Trustees from 1989-98, a special assistant to Ohio University President Robert Glidden from 1999-2003, and an adjunct instructor at Scripps for about 20 years. He has served as a trial attorney and was a trial judge in Ohio for eight years. He still sits, as a visiting judge, on assignment by the Ohio Supreme Court. Hodson also served as a Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States and won the Justice Tom C. Clark award as a Judicial Fellow (1986-87).

He has spent extensive time training judges and court personnel across the nation in media relations, community relations, and community education programs. He has authored numerous articles about the topic and co-authored a book to assist journalists in covering Ohio courts.

Evan Shaw is a Producer/Director at the WOUB Center for Public Media at Ohio University where he oversees the production of documentary and special interest projects.

Shaw has a passion for combining quality videography and editing to tell a compelling story. He recently completed production of The 1900: Voices of the Athens Asylum, a feature-length documentary focusing on the stories of patients in the Athens Lunatic Asylum during the institution's 100+ year history. From 2008 to 2013, he served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Multimedia Marketing at Ohio University and oversaw the production of more than 250 video projects per year.

Since 2006, Shaw has also been employed as a cinematographer with NFL Films, with his work regularly featured on national networks such as ESPN, Showtime, NBC and FOX. Among other honors, he has received eight Emmy Awards—one each for producing, directing, editing, and videography. He has been nominated for a total of 12 Regional Emmys and several National Emmys for his work with NFL Films.

Margaret M. Quinlan is an Assistant Professor of Communication and a Core Faculty Member of the Health Psychology Ph.D. Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Her scholarly work explores the organizing of health care resources and work opportunities for people with lived differences. Maggie has published in Text & Performance Quarterly, Health Communication, Management Communication Quarterly, Communication Teacher, Communication Research Reports, Journal of Research in Special Education Needs, Qualitative Communication Research, and Communication Education. Over the past seven years, she has worked with numerous organizations, including Dancing Wheels and DooR to DooR that rely on artistic encounters to empower vulnerable individuals.

Settings Featured in the Documentary Series

Arts in Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Ian Cion is the Director of the Arts in Medicine Program at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Ian is an artist in residence and provides personalized art programming to pediatric patients and their families.

He also coordinates studio groups allowing patients to connect with similarly situated individuals and families. Across projects, Ian uses art to foster expression among participants and help them cope with extreme physical illness, bodily trauma, or invasive medical procedures.

Collaborative Art International

Patty Mitchell, founder of Passion Works Studio in Athens, Ohio, and partner Robert Lockheed are artists-in-residence with Norwich Consulting Services and co-founders of Collaborative Art International.

Mitchell and Lockheed facilitate collaborative art projects through the talents and interests of people with developmental disabilities. Making art with participants provides a rich experience to then design custom arts programming with agencies wanting to provide innovative services.

Residencies often culminate into public exhibits and designs are then translated into replicable art products. Mitchell and Lockheed have consulted with organizations in the U.S. and abroad (e.g., WASCO Inc. in Marietta Ohio; Handikos of Kosovo; Colors of the Soul in Punta Arenas, Chile; Hope Studios, Alaska).

DooR to DooR

DooR to DooR (D2D), founded and coordinated by Joy Javits, brings professional performing, literary and visual artists to inpatient and outpatient settings at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals.

Javits established D2D to bring musicians, magicians, dancers, poets, actors, storytellers, clowns, cartoonists, to patients, staff, caregivers and the community at-large. D2D was founded on the belief that the creative process can be profoundly normalizing for individuals undergoing medical treatment.

In any given year, over 200 professional performers and visual artists engage patients, staff and family in public spaces and private rooms at UNC hospitals. Writing, singing, and even drumming can offer a respite from the physical realities of serious illness.

The Journey

Beginning in January 2014, WOUB's blog The Journey-Embracing Inclusion will feature insight from the producers, artists and participants involved with this exciting visual narrative. New photos and video will keep you informed of the series' progress.

Support for the Documentary

Production of The Courage of Creativity has been made possible to date through the generous support of:

The Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professorship in Health Communication

The Joe Berman Professorship in Communication

A grant from the Barbara Geralds Schoonover Foundation

The WOUB Center for Public Media

How You Can Help

To learn more about how you can support The Courage of Creativity, contact Robin Stock, Senior Director of Development for the Scripps College of Communication, at 740-597-9019 or, or Lead Producer Lynn Harter at