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Local artist shares healing through art

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | March 29, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — After experiencing a hardship very few people go through, a local woman is giving back to the community by sharing the talent and success she found through her art after a trying time.

Like many mothers before her, Sara Taylor was not involved with the newborn intensive care unit where her twin daughters would spend the first 10 weeks of their lives.

The only Level IV NICU in the region, the specialized wing of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center helps families through what many describe as a traumatic experience.

Neonatal intensive care units are categorized in levels, with Level IV being the least common and most specialized designation. A NICU is a special unit in a hospital that provides care to babies who are premature or sick. The nurseries provide 24/7 care and are staffed by specially trained personnel.

Level IV NICUs can treat babies who are born at as young as 22 weeks of pregnancy. Taylor’s babies were delivered three months earlier than their expected due date, at 28 weeks.

“It was an emergency situation,” Taylor said. “I just went into labor early. We kind of knew they were coming early from what the doctors had been telling us. The writing was on the wall, I had been having signs of preterm labor.”

Taylor was driven by ground ambulance to Sacred Heart in January 2018 because it was too foggy to be flown via air ambulance. Taylor was immediately put on bed rest in the Level IV NICU and delivered her twins, Charlee and Claire, on January 28. The twins respectively weighed two pounds, 12 ounces, and two pounds 13 ounces.

“They were never really sick, we were really fortunate. They were just healthy babies from the get go,” Taylor said. “We never had any major issues but it was really hard.”

Taylor and her husband, Brett, rented an apartment in Spokane so they could be close to their new babies. Taylor would make trips to the NICU several times a day to deliver breast milk for her daughters.

Ten weeks later, the twins were released from treatment and returned to their home in Sandpoint. Eight months after that, Sara began exploring and experimenting with fluid art.

Fluid art, also known as flow art, liquid art, and paint pouring, is a style of painting characterized by the patterns and effects created by allowing paint to run across a canvas. Many kinds of paint and materials are used in the creation of fluid art.

Expressing herself through this style of painting is one of the elements that helped Taylor navigate what she was experiencing following her time in the NICU.

Taylor is donating a complete series of paintings to Sacred Heart. The Miracle of Life Project is composed of five large pieces on wrapped canvases. Earthy tones and deep hues illustrate Taylor’s dive into herself as she continues to process the time spent in the NICU.

“Making that collection for me was cathartic,” she said. “I hadn’t thought about a lot of this stuff for two or three years. I thought I had processed it.”

The Taylor twins are now 4 years old — jumping, playing, and screaming like others their age.

“The Miracle of Life Project pieces, a big part of that is passing some of that energy on to parents and families that have gone through that same trauma that we went through as a family.”

Photos of the Miracle of Life Project can be found on Taylor’s website, stmodernart.com. Those interested in viewing the originals in person can do so in April at the Art Spirit Gallery located in Coeur d’Alene. An opening party will be held at the gallery on April 2.

The paintings will be for sale, along with prints of the pieces. A large percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Sacred Heart’s Level IV NICU.

“One thing I will say to parents usually is, ‘Yay, congratulations on your baby, we’re sorry that you have to come to us in the NICU.’” said Amber Rick, a registered nurse working at the Level IV NICU. “A lot of times people don’t realize the NICU exists until they’re there. … I like to tell people my job is 99.8% rewarding, and 0.2% sad.”

Rick has been working at the special unit for nearly six years. According to her, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is forming relationships with the families that come through the NICU.

“Being a nurse in the NICU, one of the greatest things is building that relationship with the parents,” Rick said. “Sometimes the nurses will take care of the same babies for their entire NICU stay. You develop a really close relationship with those families.”

Those interested in donating directly to Sacred Heart’s Level IV NICU can do so through their website at give.providence.org/inw/donate-now.

The bulk of Taylor’s notoriety comes from her YouTube channel, Sara Taylor, with over three million cumulative views. She is accepting private commissions, on top of providing workshops on fluid art. Taylor continues to raise her family in Sandpoint with the twins, older daughter Jane, and her husband Brett, who she described as her rock throughout her experience with the NICU.

“I really truly believe that if we are creative, and if we communicate as a community, then that is going to be really healing,” Taylor said. “Part of the beauty of Sandpoint is, we’re kind of this artsy, creative little niche here, it’s always been that way.”

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Photo by - ANNISA KEITH

Sara Taylor sits on the table in her home studio in Sandpoint. After delivering two premature twins in the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Taylor is donating original artwork and print proceeds to the special care unit.

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Photo by - ANNISA KEITH

Sara Taylor sits barefoot in her home studio where she creates fluid art pieces. On top of a popular YouTube channel, Taylor mentors younger artists, provides workshops, and accepts commission requests.

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Photo Courtesy - ARIANA LAKE

Specialized equipment and staff work within the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit within Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. The special unit accepts high-risk pregnancies, treat babies with congenital abnormalities, and provides 24/7 care to newborns on top of many other provisions.

photo

Photo Courtesy - ARIANA LAKE

Specialized equipment and staff work within the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit within Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. The special unit accepts high-risk pregnancies, treat babies with congenital abnormalities, and provides 24/7 care to newborns on top of many other provisions.