Cincinnati Children's Blog

Portrait of a Soul – The Healing Power of Art

Portrait of a Soul – The Healing Power of Art

Beautiful. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but “beautiful” is the best way to describe the paintings unveiled to families for the first time at the recently opened Portrait of a Soul exhibition.

Portrait of a Soul is a project commissioned by philanthropists Lee and Sue Schaefer to help boost confidence and self-esteem for children with craniofacial anomalies. The Schaefer family worked with clinicians and staff in the Division of Plastic Surgery and Craniofacial Center in selecting 12 Cincinnati Children’s patients to have their portraits painted by elite portrait artists.

These patients’ beautiful smiling faces now adorn the walls of Cincinnati’s Eisele Gallery of Fine Art. The exhibition is on display to the public through Friday, July 3. Portraits will be given to the children and their families at the conclusion of the exhibition.

Each portrait was painted by a different artist to tell a unique story about its subject. We got to hear a few of these stories during the June unveiling ceremony:

  • Ashleigh, whose portrait is pictured above (far left), was painted by artist Carl Samson. At age 21, she is one of the oldest patients to participate in the project. Read Ashleigh’s Cleft Story and a reflection on her experiences at Cincinnati Children’s on our blog.
  • Twin brothers Grayson and Gaelen were painted together in one portrait. Artist Jim Effler announced that the portrait is specially framed so that it can be split in two for when the boys become adults. That way, he said, there’ll be no fighting over who gets to keep the painting.
  • Kenton and local artist Richard Luschek shared an especially meaningful connection. Richard was born with a cleft lip and similarly treated at Cincinnati Children’s. Upon asking Kenton, who is deaf, what he’d like to say in his painting, Kenton responded with the sign for “I love you.” Read more about their bond on Richard Luschek’s blog.

To view all 11 portraits and more photos from the unveiling ceremony, visit Portrait of a Soul on Facebook.

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