by Stephanie Klemons, Founder of Katie's Art Project
There once lived a girl named Katie Andryca. Aside from being my very bestest friend, she was a wild, crazy, loving, artistic, and passionate young woman. She loved rain because of the worms, and rainbows. She loved caterpillars because they are fuzzy and they make beautiful butterflies. And she loved art because...well, it made her feel like she mattered.
Once upon a time we talked about starting a clothing line. Katie would design and I'd do the business. We'd call it, A.S.K. In the acronym were both of our initials (K.A. and S.K.) and a profound demand. Always ask, always question, demand art! Since Katie was always the inspiration, Katie's Art Project seemed better suited, and slightly less angsty.
Please note that instead of K.A.P., an on-going art project for kids with life threatening illness, this could have just as easily been called A.S.K., an on-going art project for kids with life threatening illness.
So, it was Katie's dream to be a creator of art. In December 1999, Katie was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was an immediate in-patient spending all the major holidays in that little seven room ward. Being the artist she was with the help of her family; Walter, Beth, and Michael, and friends from school, Katie decorated her room within an inch of it's stark white, sterile life.
Truthfully, in that Pediatric Hematology Oncology Ward, each child was his or her own hero; driving the way they spent their days albeit attached to a pic line or IV. Volunteers came and went, and questionably got more from the kids than the kids got from them, the little Angels that they were. However, two volunteers in particular stood out, the golden retriever who'd come by every few weeks and spend time with each kid. Stopping for a "woof", a bone, and a hug. And the pastor, who stopped by virtually every day, rain or shine, good or bad. It wasn't what they did when they came, it was their consistency. Only after did I recognize the importance of consistency in their lives because it gave them something almost impossible, when their insides where revolting daily; it gave them comfort.
Katie passed away in late 2001 after a strong fight, and a lot of art projects... and it took some time for me to move on enough to see the forest beyond the trees. But with a little inspiration, here we are.
It's nice to meet you and we are glad you're here. See you at an art project soon.