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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Penick

Art for a Cause: exciting update

This is an update on "Art for a Cause", the amazingly successful call for art that I have organized for the Arts and Humanities Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where I am a visual artist-in-residence. As you may know, we solicited submissions of original 4x4-inch (analog/paper) collage art from around the world in celebration of World Collage Day on May 13th (and with all of the artwork ultimately going to hospital patients, their families, caregivers, and staff).

We have learned a lot in the process of organizing this first call for art, and there is great news, and good news and perhaps less good news, but I believe very understandable news.

Artist representation

We somehow envisioned getting a few hundred submissions of collage art. And so I both encouraged contributing artists to send "as many as you like" AND the wording for the call for art was that "all collages would be exhibited" before being attached to blank cards and made available to the hospital community.

But we didn't get hundreds of contributions -- we got THOUSANDS. We got so many that there isn't enough room to exhibit every one (some individuals sent, 20, 30, 60, and more). So our goal is now to exhibit at least some collages from EVERYONE, even if we can't display every single collage that we received. So everyone should be represented in the display and PLEASE NOTE that every single collage will still go to patients, their families, caregivers, and staff.

Public viewing

On May 12th (the day before World Collage Day) at the Lombardi Cancer Center we are hosting both a press conference AND a public open house! The open house will be from 5-6:30pm, and visitors can park in the parking structure at the Entrance #2 to Georgetown Hospital, off of Reservoir Road. Staff at the main hospital entry should direct you to the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. (You can also park elsewhere and walk to the door of the Cancer Center.) I will be there and would love to meet some of the artists who submitted works.

From the not-so-great news (of having too many submissions to display all), came a wonderful opportunity: In addition to the collages displayed in the Lombardi Cancer Center, another 800 collages are already on display on the second floor of the Georgetown University Library. [See photos here.] And more great news: the library (open 24 hours) will be open to the public for the first time since Covid, starting May 11!

I'm not sure where or how to adequately thank the hundreds of artists who generously donated works of art, but I'll start by thanking you--most sincerely--here and now. I wish that I could have written to thank each and every one of you individually. I have been repeatedly moved by your grace, generosity, and by what many of you have chosen to share--the loss of family and friends to whom you dedicate your art, your experience with hospitals in general that makes you empathize and want to brighten the day of someone else. In unwrapping your contributions, I have marveled, I have laughed, and I have cried. As I have mentioned to friends, I always knew that patients would love receiving original works of art. What has surprised me is how pleased YOU artists have been to give. I have received hundreds of thank you notes from artists--saying how much it means to them to contribute their creativity to such a worthy cause. It's truly heartwarming,

You are all remarkable, creative people, who took the time to make art, donate it, package it and mail it, and you did this from 41 different U.S. states and from 30 different countries (so far; the deadline is still a few days away). We received submissions from groups of elementary, high school, and university students. From local arts groups, from groups of friends, from children, from seniors, from collage beginners and from accomplished collagists. We have received submissions from from many of my friends, my mixed media class participants, and from many of my Creativity Jumpstart participants, The collage community is broad, diverse, and generous.

Photo documentation

Of course most of you cannot join us in person for the open house or to visit the Georgetown University Library. We will have a professional photographer document the exhibit and I will share photos.


If you want to know if your collages have been received, I have logged in all of the collages. You can email me at to ask if your submission arrived.

Please let me know if you have other questions, too.


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