A Labor of Love Reaches a Pinnacle, almost…


Or…playing baseball up a mountain, sort of…

 Four years ago, while working as a cardiac nurse and a botanical art teacher, I started to think about how the two fields worked together. What did they have in common and how could they benefit each other? Brainstorming with friends, co-workers and fellow artists led to some ideas. Realizing how art makes a difference in my life and hearing the same from those around me, an idea began to form. Eventually, some semblance of a plan came together.

First, the plan was thrown at the Assistant Manager, who instead of throwing it back, grabbed the ball and threw in more shape to the plan. From the Assistant Manager, the ball was thrown to the Manager, and again it was caught. The Manager wanted to take the project to a larger scale and suggested it be thrown to the Director of Nursing Research, where it hit a home run. Then, the climb began.

Over the next two years, steady climbing continued. The plan formed into a research project to determine if the work of artists, who also work in cardiac healthcare, could help cardiac patients. Many logistical issues arose. Trails were blazed. Battles were fought. Problems were solved. A team was formed to continue the climb. Some team members came and went but a few managed to stay the course from start to finish. One team member took on the role of leading the ground game. Through ups and downs, support for the project never wavered.

Eventually, we were able to measure how the staff-created art made a difference to the post-operative care of cardiac patients. It was a grand day when we were finally to the point of hanging the art. Once in place, we found the art made a difference to the staff, not just the art-makers, but to all the staff, as well as, the patients. Though a high point was reached, it was not the highest point. We still wanted to share our labor of love with others, in hopes that they, too, could do what we did. Thus began the next phase of the climb.

To share with others, the story had to be told. A new team came together from other players on the project and an account was written. Then rewritten. Then written some more. Finally, the project was thrown out into a bigger stadium. The first throw was a strike out. After a huddle produced some fresh rewriting, the project was thrown out again. This time it was caught at first base. More work got it to second base, then to third. Now it is slow walking to home plate having been accepted as a hit. The pinnacle is in sight. Publication will happen!


More on Phase Two of the Art to Heart Project can be found at: www.arttoheartproject.com

Phase One of the Art to Heart Project has been accepted and is now awaiting publication. (Yea!!) Can I breathe now?

Cloudy Thinking

The arts have an extraordinary ability to enhance our lives, to help us heal, and to bring comfort in times of great stress.”–Dana Gioia,  NEA Chairman, 2003, (from Creativity in Healthcare.com)art_heart23

How would you like to sit before a painting of what looks like bleeding clouds while waiting to have medical tests? My friend, Sue, related this story to me from her personal experience.  Do artists consider the potential audience when creating?  Does it matter?  Do designers consider the audience over whether or not an art piece works on a wall?

It was an issue that came up in The Art to Heart Project, (more here).  Artists were given selection criteria for art based on the research of Dr. Roger S. Ulrich and others about the effects on patients when viewing certain types of art.  As we measured the effects of the art on patient ambulation in our project, we didn’t want negative responses to the art to influence the outcome.  Once artists understood that reasoning, they created on these guidelines with very little difference in their process.  All the artists described the experience of creating for a patient population to be gratifying.

If the bleeding cloud artist did not know where the painting was going once sold, then the designer made the choice.  In either case, did anybody stop to think of the potential mindset of the viewers?  Bleeding Clouds might be interesting in some places but probably not in a doctor’s office.   Which would help you relax while waiting for your medical test results: bleeding clouds or a forest of green trees?

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