Battling cancer with art, Jacksonville area kids' art displayed at MOCA

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new exhibit "ANIMAL-GAMATION" is opening up on Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) and it'll will feature artwork from local children who spent time at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

If visitors come to the 5th floor of MOCA you'll catch artwork by 16 different pediatric patients.

Action News Jax spoke with 12-year-old Joshua Ribeiro or "Junior" as he likes to be called, a young boy from Jacksonville Beach battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia,  a rare form of cancer.

"This is the Grizder, it's a concoction of a grizzly bear and a black widow spider," Ribeiro said.

His mother tells us he was diagnosed back in October of 2018.

"It was very difficult, it was the hardest thing in my life I had to deal with," his mother Nerissa Ribeiro said.

But Junior said it didn't stop his love of art.  It was Art with a Heart, a local nonprofit that works with hospitals around our area that helped him heal through this difficult time.

"It just brings me so much joy when I get to paint and do art,  just have fun and create random things no matter what they are," Junior said.

Junior was at Wolfson Children's hospital for a month working alongside other patients to create these works of art.


Now he's looking forward to going back to school next week.

"I'm so excited! He missed the whole year last year and just being in maintenance and being able to get back to our new normality is going to help him with his social life," Nerissa Ribeiro said.

His artwork will be on display at MOCA for the public to see and Junior hopes it'll inspire others going through the same thing.

"Art is a great way to keep you positive and keep your hopes up and just know that no matter how hard it can get you're going to do just fine," Junior said.

Junior will now do oral chemotherapy for the next three years.

You can catch his artwork at MOCA starting from Aug. 10 until December.

STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on this breaking story

Download WJAX Apps