3-Minute Interview: Jill Myers

The “childlife specialist” uses performance art to help sick children at UCSF’s Children’s Hospital. She is directing a group of teenagers who will perform at the de Young Museum at 3 p.m. Wednesday.The performances, which have different emotional themes, include “Ode to Leukemia,” “A Conversation between a Patient and her Illness” and “Anorexia and the Mind.”

What is a childlife specialist? We provide psychosocial support to hospitalized patients. What it involves is helping them understand why they’re hospitalized in terms that make sense to them, support them and prepare them for any kind of medical procedures that they might be having.

What is the everyday life of a drama therapist like? I use drama therapy to support the program. That involves numerous different venues. For example, we use writing, we will act out using puppets, we will create and write a play. That’s what this project is, but it’s not a linear play. It’s more like a living collage — a performance piece that integrates all of the arts.

What can a visitor expect to find at the de Young exhibit? The patients I titled in this project are authors and artists who created a lot of different works. Some people drew, some people painted with watercolors, some people made collages, some people made different sculptures out of medical supplies, and all of these pieces are thoroughly integrated into this performance-art project. These pieces were concrete visual-art pieces that projected in collaboration with some artwork from the de Young Museum.

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