“When you can turn around and finally see the disease outside of your own excruciating journey, that’s powerful.” (Anonymous, living with cancer)

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.  We feel that the arts are concerned with the value of human interactions as they pertain to the senses.

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 emotions within the experience.  View this video at https://youtu.be/jm_w-JTp8aw

Phase 2: The stories

Project From Within is preparing an art exhibit at the Massachusetts School of Art and Design
in June, 2018 that continues with the story of disease and pain, and how humans capture and
interpret the associated chaos. We are seeking stories, sentences, poems, and words that
describe the chaos that rips through a life, a family or a friendship when someone is
experiencing chronic disease or pain. These descriptions will be posted anonymously (unless
permission is provided to share your name) inside a large canvas box, shared for the public to
read. Artist Marlena Bocian Hewitt will interpret with her painting, a few selected
submissions. Her interpretations will also be on exhibit. If you have a story (sentence, poem,
words) to share with the Boston public, please email to Marlena at marlenabocian@gmail.com. We
will honor any submissions who wish to remain anonymous. For more information about
Project From Within, see “From Within” on Facebook or visit

Disease and chronic pain affects every family in some way, directly or indirectly.  Art can be used to capture the emotions and to tell the story.  In this project, Marlena Bocian Hewitt will conduct art workshops to help people living with disease, pain or their families to tell their story using abstract art.  She will also host story box workshops where the participants will design small boxes that express their story.

The arts describe experiences to us and suggest what may be in store for us. We will solicit from the public, stories (sentences, poems, words) that describe the chaos that rips through a life, a family or a friendship when someone is experiencing chronic disease or pain, and how humans capture and interpret the associated chaos. These descriptions will be posted anonymously, shared for the public to read an art exhibit in June.

Phase 3: The exhibit

It is the gift of the artist to move their audience and encourage an exploration of their feelings. This project will culminate with an exhibit of the stories and art created in Phases 1 and 2 along with Marlena’s interpretations of some of the projects in phase 2, at the Massachusetts School of Art and Design in June, 2018.   

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

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

Support the project: https://www.gofundme.com/art-workshops-from-within

Collaborating Artists:

Sojourn Gudorf-Johnston (choreographer, dancer).  Sojourn studies ballet with Koltun Ballet Boston. She holds awards from international ballet and dance competitions, and has trained at ballet schools in Paris, NYC, Boston, Phoenix, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, often on merit scholarships (Instagram: ina22_802).

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.