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Healing Through ArtCares, Key Biscayners Liz
Portuondo, Tania Quintana and Dorian
Rosen take a creative approach to
helping kids with cancer.
T e x t by Jacq uely n B enso n
Ph otos co ur t e sy o f Ar tC ar e s
38 iz Portuondo knows all about the healing
properties of art. “Art has the power of
providing a healthy outlet and helps children
communicate issues, concerns and trauma
they’re not comfortable verbalizing,” says
the Key Biscayne resident and art therapist. It was this
that inspired her and co-founders Tania Quintana and
Dorian Rosen to create ArtCares for Kids, a non-profit
organization dedicated to providing art therapy for
children battling cancer.
The 3 friends — all mothers, artists, and Key Biscayne
residents – had been volunteering together for years
before deciding to start ArtCares. “We love working with
children,” Portuondo admits. They began by purchasing
their own paints, canvases and other art supplies, as
well as volunteering their time. Before long, the walls of
the hospital’s hematology and oncology inpatient units
were bright with work created by children undergoing
From that small start, the organization has continued to
grow, and today serves the unit twice a week with regular
volunteers. They hope to grow even further, expanding
to provide art therapy services at other units in Jackson
Hospital and at other hospitals in the area, including
Baptist Hospital, which recently contacted the group. “Art
has a power to distract and also increase the quality of
life for children undergoing treatment for different types
of cancer,” Portuondo says.
After years working as an art teacher at the Key’s St.
Agnes Catholic School, Portuondo went for a Master’s
in Art Therapy, interning at Miami Children’s Hospital’s
Inpatient Psychiatry Unit. More recently, she began
work as a Clinical Art Therapist with Miami-Dade Public
Schools, working with children diagnosed with emotional
and behavioral difficulties.
For her, though, it’s the children who are the real
heroes. “These kids don’t become their illness,” she says.
“In spite of their physical discomforts and emotional
challenges, children just want to do what normal kids do:
play, have fun, make a mess, paint, sing, dance, laugh
and be in the moment. Every time we go to the hospital,
we walk away nourished by the children who inspire and
teach us to be grateful and to enjoy life. The children are
truly our teachers.”
Most recently, ArtCares volunteers collaborated to rent
a studio in Key Biscayne to serve as an info center, art
supply storage and volunteer training space. ArtCares
accepts both financial gifts and donations of art
supplies, as well as welcoming volunteers, particularly
students who want to co-create art pieces to help
brighten up the hospital walls. To find out more, visit