MY ART STORY by

Marilyn Clements

Orange
California

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Child wearing crown and costume.

A child participant of Discovery Arts. Photo courtesy of Discovery Arts

The arts have always been a large part of my life. I began dancing at two years old and looked forward to going to the studio throughout my life.  We were surrounded and submerged in the arts with dancing, singing, drawing, painting, and theater. What a way to be enriched!  Dancing was my first love and it took me on an amazing journey. I excelled in school as a result of the creativity and artistic discipline I grew up with. I discovered that I had a great love of choreographing my own dances.  That quickly grew into choreographing for others, and one job led to another. I had the privilege of choreographing for Radio City Music Hall's "Magnificent Christmas Spectacular," choreographing Pope John Paul II's visit to Los Angeles at the LA Memorial Coliseum, working with Bob Hope at the Kennedy Center and in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and doing many others.

During the height of my career, I was asked to help with an event for Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, California.  There I met Dr. Jerry Finklestein, medical director, and some of the children.  I remembered being a child and how I loved going to dance at the studio everyday.  These children could not do that, nor could they do any arts activity in a public group because of their lowered immune systems.  With the help of my dear friend, composer Don Harper, Discovery Arts was born.  Discovery Arts brings music, art, dance, and drama to children with cancer and life-threatening illness while they are in the hospital receiving treatment.  We began with one small pediatric cancer unit and have been able to reach thousands of very sick children since we began 21 years ago.  The arts are such a blessing to these children, and with Discovery Arts they have the opportunity to discover talents and artistic interests of their own, feel good about themselves, and have some sense of normalcy while they are going through so much.  The arts have blessed my life in more ways than I can count and I am blessed to be able to "give back" some artistic joy to a very sweet and often forgotten population.  The lesson? The arts change lives, enrich lives, bless lives, and heal lives.

The Heart of a Patient. Video by Discovery Arts with Festival of Children