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  • Sep 05, 2019

The healing nature of art

Art, like medicine, can have a number of healing properties in its creation and also by witnessing pieces on display as a casual observer.

By Gabriela Crinigan, Family Support Specialist.

For some, physical activities or reading a book is a form of therapy allowing a person to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse in an engaging activity. Finding calm quiet moments is critically important to emotional and physical health in the digital age. Putting down the cell phone, turning off the TV, and disconnecting can be awfully hard as we are so linked to these devices but it's the quickest way to reduce anxiety.

Developing artwork can be highly therapeutic too. Art therapy is used in a number of settings with adults, children and teenagers allowing them a space to explore inner emotions and process life challenges. The goal is not to create the next Guernica or Mona Lisa but rather about finding connections between creative decisions and a person's emotional life. The forging of art, whether paintings, sculptures, knitting, or woodworking, can kick start conversations and develop a path toward recovering.

Artwork is part of the webbing of CHA's culture as we strive to bring care to the people, regardless of their ability to pay, race, religion, gender, or ethnicity. Our annual fundraiser, which raises funding for critical patient-centered programs, is called Art of Healing and strives to spotlight the important community work our staff and providers do each day to support our diverse patient population. Watch a video showcasing a patient story from the most recent event.

The CHA Center for Professional and Academic Development sponsors a number of engaging art installations at locations across CHA around the year. The highlight is always the annual Auscultations arts gala at CHA Cambridge Hospital which displays pieces developed by CHA staff, volunteers, and trainees. Other yearly events spotlight specific staff artwork or commemorations, like Black History Month, LGBTQ Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Portuguese Speakers Month.

Recently, we were thrilled to introduce a new employee art display at Commerce Place in Malden.

At another event in Cambridge, Ralph Upchurch, MD, of the Department of Emergency Medicine, opened an exhibit titled "Provincetown: Time and Tide," displaying some of his most recent seascapes of Provincetown and the Outer Cape. This is the third photo exhibit at CHA by Dr. Upchurch, who has more than 20 images on permanent display at our campuses.

"Sharing something as intimate and close to my heart as my art allows my colleagues to see a different side of me," said Dr. Upchurch. "I have lost count of the number of people who have told me that viewing these images fills them with a feeling of peace and tranquility. Interfacing with the medical system is a stressful and anxiety-provoking experience for most people. A non-pharmacological dose of peace and tranquility before and after a visit has to be a good thing!"

This articles provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

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