Make-A-Wish Volunteer Gift Art Workshop

CENTRAL KITSAP – Nicole Buss flips through a sketchbook showing her recent work, tucked away in a cozy art studio, a new addition to her family’s home.

“I like to draw portraits. When I was in class all I did was draw pictures of the other people in the room. My teachers complained that I was drawing more than taking notes, ”she said, walking past colorful figures. “That was when I was really obsessed with Raggedy Andy for a hot minute.”

The studio, a large hangar that is the result of over a year of anticipation and work across Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington, offers him a dedicated space for his work, to sketch his favorite characters, to paint. while listening to a true crime podcast, for working on cosplay costumes that she developed.

It is now filled with art supplies, his work and his costumes. It is decorated and warm. This is his space.

Nicole Buss holds one of her many drawings filling out a sketchbook inside her art studio.

It’s a reward to be hoped for, Nicole said, as she lived with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and a range of health issues associated with the disease. Now 20, she has faced these issues throughout her life, but it wasn’t until about four years ago that she and her family were given a name for what bound them. all in EDS. There were a lot of appointments, going back and forth to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

With the new art studio and the work of the Make-A-Wish volunteers who helped give the space a personalized touch, “It helped a lot with having to go to the hospital and do x-rays all the time. “, says Nicole. “It’s just something to look forward to.”

When she made a connection with Make-A-Wish, some around her thought she was dying, she said. She corrects this notion: “I was like, no, no, I’m very much alive, just a lot of chronic pain.”

Bright and fiery, she does not hesitate to denounce references to pop culture and entertainment, films from years ago. She developed a love for comics, manga, cartoons and reading provides an escape from life. On the internet, she posts her own work and has connected with others with EDS, with advocates and activists from the disability community, she said.

Nicole Buss points out the character from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure that the cosplay outfit she's holding is based on inside her art studio.

She now visits the dedicated studio space daily to sit and work on art projects or read. No more hot glue on your bedroom rug or working on something on your bed. Sometimes she will be joined in the studio by her mother and brother and they will stretch out together in the hangar.

“I think she’s going to do a lot of cool stuff here,” Nicole’s mom, Tricia said. “It’s a lot easier than lying in bed and painting.”

The hangar arrived at their home last month, and Make-A-Wish volunteers Carol Carley, of Bainbridge Island, and Kristen Curiale, of Auburn, who had started working on Nicole’s wish before COVID-19, were are set to personalize the space. When their work was done, Nicole arrived at the house and her brother handed her the key to the studio.

Nicole Buss is reflected in a mirror as she talks about her new Make-A-Wish Foundation art studio.  Buss has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and has a range of health issues associated with the disease that require treatment at Seattle Children's Hospital.

“It’s very personalized,” Nicole said of the Make-A-Wish experience. “Even the trips are super personalized, and they want to make it as unique as possible to make it an experience. When they work there, it’s not like they just have a shed and just throw stuff here and there.

Some Make-A-Wish wishes, such as those focused on travel, have been put on hold during the pandemic. When Nicole landed at an art studio, volunteers stepped forward to help make it happen. As the wish came true, Nicole’s volunteers kept in touch, sending her personalized gifts and notes.

“Everyone who attended was so amazing and added so much more,” said Tricia.

“It really makes a difference,” Carley said. “It’s amazing how your mind, when you have something to look forward to, can make a difference. If you come back to a really cool trip that you had, you can be there and remember it, it can calm you down and help you through a rough time. For Nicole, it ended up being a place in her backyard that she can come in and just be herself and be who she wants to be and forget about everything that is going on with her condition and everything in between.

Nicole Buss poses for a portrait in the doorway of the Make a Wish Foundation art studio.

Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, [email protected] or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.

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