BRADENTON -- A painting called "Girl Power" depicts four girls holding hands and dancing while surrounded by a circle of other children whose hands are joined. Another painting by a young artist is called "T-1 Tiger," which could refer to the T cells that help the human immune system fight disease.
Children battling cancer created the paintings featured in a free public exhibit and offered for sale at ArtCenter Manatee.
The art is on display through Oct. 2 in the Reid Hodges Gallery, 209 Ninth St. W., Bradenton.
As of Tuesday, 11 of the 22 pieces, priced between $35 to $80, have been sold. The exhibit opened Sept. 3.
"There are works in watercolor, abstracts, acrylics," said Carla Nierman, executive director of ArtCenter Manatee, which is in its fourth year of mounting "Art by Kids with Cancer." "We've got crayons. We've got pastels. They tend to be all over the map as to what makes them happy. They are very colorful works and, if you really look at them, you will find that there is a lot of meaning."
The art was made by children being treated at the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Naples, Nierman said.
"It's pretty incredible that these kids are producing artwork of this caliber," said Cathy Mijou, development coordinator for ArtCenter Manatee. "The program allows these kids to express difficult emotions through the healing powers of art."
A not-for-profit called The Young Artists Awards works with the hospital staff in Naples to give the children this outlet, Nierman added.
"The children create this art in their hospital beds," she said. "One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale go to Southwest Florida families to help them with prescription costs, groceries, transportation and meals when they are at the hospital. This is a beautiful collaboration that allows the Young Artists to go into the hospital and take the art supplies and allow the children to express themselves."
The project is important because it takes children out of where they are and what they are going through for a measure of time, Nierman said.
Nierman has a fondness for "Girl Power."
"'Girl Power' is one of my favorite ones," she said. "My understanding is that this was done during an important point for this young girl. Obviously, if you are a young person and are sick and taken out of your home, you can see where you would need your power."
The Naples program is ending after this year, but Nierman hopes she can get another hospital to pick it up.
"This is the last year and it is very sad to us all," she said. "It is something I would like to start up here. They are having difficulty with people within the hospital wanting to accommodate this process."
Hearing their art pieces have sold is therapeutic itself to the children and families, Nierman said.
"We know that art is very therapeutic, but we also know that the children are very proud of it and it is my understanding that when they sell a piece they are really jazzed," she added.
The artwork can be seen from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.