Artwork that makes a difference

Isabell Villacis and T. J. Christian with their painting, “Healing Life.”

Amy’s Treat is a non-profit foundation that was created in December 2007 in memory of Amy Maliszewski, who died from cancer. The Dover, NH-based organization was founded by Maliszewski’s daughter Rachel O’Neill and is dedicated to providing solutions to the day-to-day difficulties of living with the disease. According to its website,, it offers “unexpected treats to renew the spirit.”

One of those “treats” is a painting called “Healing Life” created by Arts Access artists T.J. Christian and Isabell Villacis. Christian is an adult medical day patient at Matheny. Villacis participates in Arts Access twice a month as part of the Self Directed Services program of the Lakeview School in Edison, NJ. Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.

Coincidentally, Christian met Maliszewski’s sister Mary Beth Seaman a few years ago when she was working in the now defunct Somerville gift shop, What’s in the Icebox. Seaman is a direct support professional caring for people with developmental disabilities, and Villacis is now her client. When she brought Villacis to Arts Access for an initial visit, she was reunited with Christian, and Villacis and Christian also became friends. When they learned about Amy’s Treat, both artists wanted to do something to help cancer patients and decided to collaborate on a painting. “We wanted to give a treat to cancer patients,” says Christian. Adds Villacis: “We felt we could make a difference with our artwork.”