Student donates artwork to children's hospital
Hannah Kauffman, a rising Liberty University sophomore studying graphic design in the Department of Studio & Digital Arts, recently gave back to a children’s hospital where she received extensive treatment when she was young by donating a work of art that she created with patients in mind.
Kauffman’s watercolor piece, “Octavius,” portrays an octopus holding a balloon and is currently on display at the entrance to the newly remodeled cafeteria at Shriners Hospital for Children — Greenville (S.C.).
“An octopus is a creature that can be labeled as strange based on its exterior,” Kauffman said. “However, I painted the balloon to symbolize his heart and everything he wanted to contribute to the world; in a way, it’s an expression of my own journey with dealing with scoliosis.”
Kauffman was diagnosed at the age of 7 with idiopathic scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. She traveled back and forth from Montana to the Shriners center in Washington State to receive treatment until she was 16 and moved to Virginia. She then began receiving treatment at Shriners in Greenville. Kauffman’s condition progressively worsened to the point that she required surgical correction.
Kauffman hopes her painting will be an encouragement to patients and remind them that what they may feel sets them apart doesn’t limit who they can become and, in fact, can be used to their benefit.
“I wanted to convey to patients that it’s OK to be different, whether their differences are physically visible, or otherwise,” Kauffman said. “It’s a problem everyone experiences at some point in their lives. I wanted my piece to be a reassurance that being different was not bad but rather can be your greatest opportunity to reach people, by using their curiosity as a building block rather than seeing it as a negative event in their life.”
Kauffman gave her painting to show appreciation to the staff who went above and beyond to help her and her family feel comfortable and cared for.
“All of the staff, both at the Spokane (Wash.) and the Greenville Shriners, have all been incredibly helpful, and in a way I would consider them family along with the doctors and nurses who treated me,” Kauffman said. “I had no idea how I could ever repay them. Donating a simple painting to put a smile on even one face was the least I could do.”
Kauffman received her treatment with no costs involved, as the Shriners Hospitals for Children treat young patients with orthopaedics, burn care, spinal cord injury, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. In Kauffman’s case, her surgery alone would have cost well over $100,000, not including the braces and other treatment she received.