Project From Within is a collaboration of artists and dancers creating art with families and communities to encourage the exploration and expression of emotions because the communication of our emotions cannot always be expressed solely through words when experiencing ravaging disease and pain.

 Sojourn Gudorf Johnston initiated this project after watching a young friend deal with cancer.  Sojourn was deeply inspired by the girl’s positive attitude and her poignant story. Sojourn collaborated on this project with artist Marlena Bocian Hewitt and together they are working with cancer survivors and their families to tell their stories in a visual form.

 There are three phases to Project From Within:

 Phase 1: The box, the dance

 This dance represents chaos of cancer.  The white canvas box represents an innocent life; the paint represents the cancer; the dancer and the music represent the emotional experience.  View this video at 

Phase 2: Painting their stories

 Cancer affects every family in some way, directly or indirectly.  Art can be used to capture emotions in ways that are different than using words to capture emotions. In this project, nine families affected by cancer will paint their stories, experiences and emotions onto the canvas panels from the painted box.  During this process, these families and survivors can explore their feelings that might have been unexpressed.

Phase 3: Sharing their stories

 The storied canvases will be installed in their original boxed form at public locations around Boston in the spring of 2018. In addition, other white canvas boxes will be installed in public places in and near Boston encouraging the public to share and paint their own personal stories.

 Check this webpage’s calendar for postings of these events.

 Follow this project on Facebook (From Within), and Instagram (project_from_within).

 Collaborating Artists:

 Sojourn Gudorf-Johnston (choreographer, dancer).  Sojourn (age 14) studies ballet with Koltun Ballet Boston. She holds awards from international ballet and dance competitions, and has received merit scholarships to Bolshoi Ballet NYC, Boston Ballet and Joffrey Ballet summer programs.  In January 2016, she was invited by the producers of So You Think You Can Dance Next Generation to audition in LA, California.  Sojourn has been an assistant instructor at Koltun Ballet Boston with young dancer’s classes for the past two years.

 Marlena Bocian Hewitt (artist). Marlena is a professional artist and art instructor.  She has degrees in business, visual arts and architecture from Europe and the USA. She uses her artistic skills to promote science, women in science and dance. She has experience teaching drawing, painting and collage workshops to all ages, from preschool to the senior community. She has presented her workshops at schools, libraries, organizations, and community centers.  She has created ballet paintings that can be viewed in the USA and in Europe, at many dance schools and dance companies: Martha Graham Dance Company in NYC and the Warsaw Ballet, to name a few. 


Our sincere thanks to Ernesto Galan (Scalped Productions, videography), the Polish American Networking Association (for their sponsorship as a not-for-profit fiscal agent and support throughout this project), Michael Rose (photography), and the numerous volunteers and families who assisted in the making of this project.