The Color of Recovery: Dorr Lecturer Describes Healing Power of Expression 

A simple gift can sometimes be life-changing for the recipient — even a gift as small as a box of crayons. 

Amanda Lipp
Amanda Lipp

At the Anita Dorr Memorial Luncheon on Saturday, artist, filmmaker and mental-health activist Amanda Lipp described how artistic expression can heal and build resilience, the power she found in telling stories through documentaries, and how a nurse saved her life.  

Lipp recounted her struggles with mental health issues when she was 18 and explained how a nurse’s gift of a box of crayons helped her recover and opened the door to a lifetime of artistic expression.

“The seemingly small gesture of handing me a box of crayons became a pivotal moment in my healing,” Lipp said. “It pulled me out of the despair and darkness. … She didn’t just hand me a box of crayons, she modeled for me what compassion looks like.”

Lipp showed video of her artistic process, which involves coloring an entire page with crayon, each color on top of the other, and using a sharp object to etch away an image — a process she described as “sensory catharsis.”

Lipp found her crayon art not only helped her deal with her trauma and mental health, it became a metaphor that informed her worldview. In Lipp’s mind, the crayons are the tools and resources everyone has, the paper is an opportunity, and the layers of color are a person’s story.

In the latest chapter of her career as a documentary filmmaker, Lipp has found meaning through telling people’s stories. She has interviewed hundreds of people, those struggling with mental health, their caregivers and health care professionals — always curious about what’s in their crayon box.

“Everyone has a story, it’s just a matter of how and who we share it with,” Lipp said.

Barbara Baldwin

Earlier in the event, ENA President Jenn Schmitz presented longtime ENA member and safety advocate Barbara Baldwin with the 2022 Judith C. Kelleher Award. Schmitz described Baldwin’s passion for babysitting education and how her work helped develop the national Safety Whys babysitter course. Baldwin had been a mentee of ENA co-founder Judith Kelleher.

“Judy was my ENA mom, and when we were out and about, she would introduce me as her daughter,” Baldwin said in her thank you for the award. “It was interesting to see people wondering where the resemblance was.”

Now in her 50th year as an ENA member, Baldwin has helped the emergency nursing specialty at every level, Schmitz said.

“Barbara has helped educate and mentor new nurses, served as a delegate during 25 General Assemblies and provided lectures on emergency nursing, personal safety and child care,” Schmitz said. “Judith would have been proud to see you receive this award today.”

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