Art for Recovery is an award-winning program of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Through this program, patients coping with life-threatening illness, such as AIDS and cancer, are given an opportunity to express their feelings and experiences through art.

The program was conceived in 1988 by the late Dr. Ernest H. Rosenbaum and has been directed by Cynthia Perlis since its inception. It brings artists, writers, poets, musicians and medical students to our patients to listen, to share and to help express through words, images, music and quilt-making what it looks like and feels like to cope with an illness.

Art for Recovery is dedicated to enabling people to express what they are feeling through their own creativity as part of a healing process.

Family members, partners and friends may participate as well as create their own art relating to a loved one's illness.

Projects include:

  • Artwork and art support groups
  • Breast Cancer Quilt Project
  • Firefly Project, a letter exchange between middle and high school students and patients that culminates in public readings
  • Healing Garden music series
  • Poetry and writing workshops

Art for Recovery has a collection of more than 500 pieces of art – work that is a history of the program as well as the anger, pain, fear, hope and possibility of a future of the program participants.