The art therapy session is part of the Space Suit Art Project, a global initiative that has allowed children in pediatric oncology centers around the world to interact with astronauts and send them colorful, hand-painted suits to wear aboard the International Space Station.
Retired US Astronaut Nicole Stott and the founder of the Space Suit Art Project, Ian Cion, who is also the former Arts in Medicine Program director at MD Anderson Cancer Center, have arrived to Russia for the event, which will see the children dream up the new suit design in collaboration with Russian cosmonauts, US astronauts and artists.
As Stott explained, the project, established on Cion's idea that "dreaming together is the beginning of a new reality," started small, but has grown to inspire child cancer patients around the world.
"What started with one artist, in one hospital, in one country, with one art space suit, has blossomed into a global Space for Art community. I am so thankful to be part of this amazing international team that is on a mission to unite children around the world through the wonder and awe of space exploration and the healing power of art," Stott said.
"The idea behind the project is that when kids’ dreams reach the International Space Station, they will come true," Kuzmenko said. "The project aims to creatively raise awareness about children’s cancer while simultaneously giving children around the world a unified platform, encouraging them to dream, to explore, and to have courage in their journeys. Art creates community, letting patients indirectly connect to others with similar stories internationally."
The DREAMER 1 space suit project was launched at the Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland earlier this year and continued in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The suit is just the latest to be designed by the Space Suit Art Project, a collaboration between the Space For Art Foundation (USA), Unity Public Movement (Russia), ROSCOSMOS, NASA, international hospitals, astronauts, artists, Mistral and MRI-Expert. DREAMER I and another space suit named EXPLORATION follow space suits HOPE, COURAGE, UNITY and VICTORY.
"Russia is among 15 other countries worldwide, including Switzerland, Japan, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, France and the project’s homeland, the USA, participating in DREAMER 1's creation, dedicated to mark the 20th Anniversary of International Space Station (ISS), which is the best example of international collaboration for a global cause ever," Kuzmenko said.
The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London will host the initiative on November 11, followed by Gustav Roussy in Paris on November 12, and the University Hospital-Cologne International Cancer Center in Germany on November 15.
"When we observe how our patients transform and fantasize aloud throughout the sessions, we realize, as adults, that children from around the world dream about the same things — to receive pets, become princesses, fly to Paris," Kuzmenko said. "We summon not to fight one another, but to join together in global efforts in the fight against child cancer. The collaboration of our US-Russian teams on the Spacesuit Art project and outer space, art and healing projects is a great example of positive international cooperation."
In Russia, the Space Suit Art Project is developed by the Unity organization, which supports cancer patients, in collaboration with Roscosmos, Zvezda, MRI-Expert chain of diagnostic centers and bank for SMEs Modulbank.