The Healing Powers of Artwork

One thing’s certain: healthcare spaces cannot get away with leaving artwork out of their facilities. Sr. Associate Katie Giganti recently attended a forum sponsored by the Maryland Hospital Association, where she learned the first and foremost priority of hospitals under the new healthcare legislation: treat patients with efficiency and quality. Did you know studies have been conducted that prove patients are more likely to recover quickly (read: be discharged sooner) if they have a piece of artwork in their room? The healing powers of artwork are truly amazing.

 One of the patient rooms at the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital. Each patient room has a framed piece of photography.

One of the patient rooms at the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital. Each patient room has a framed piece of photography.

The Artists Circle team has spent the last few months filling any free time with a self-imposed educational curriculum, learning about something called Evidence-based Design (EBD for those acronym happy folks). Despite its fancy name, EBD is a pretty simple concept. It is a field of study utilizing statistics/studies, which show the actual effects (“evidence”) certain design schemes can have on patients and staff in healthcare settings. In a nutshell, studies have found that calming nature images are universally accepted across cultures and patients of different ages. Carefully identified art pieces have been proven to aid in stress reduction, lessening pain, and positively contributing to the overall patient experience. We’ve put our educational findings to practice with two of our clients: over a dozen Inova Health Systems specialized care facilities, and at the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, where every single patient room has a piece of framed art.

 Artwork installed in a waiting area for one of Inova's locations in Fair Oaks, Virginia.

Artwork installed in a waiting area for one of Inova's locations in Fair Oaks, Virginia.

While “EBD art” is great for patient rooms and clinical corridors, Artists Circle specializes in finding unique art that speaks to the true individuality of each client for higher trafficked areas. At Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, a series of glass wall sculptures was installed along the main concourse. A first glance will dazzle your eyes – the colors and dynamic arrangement are beautiful – but a closer look will reveal something more: there is hand-lettered calligraphy throughout the fused glass, which, “serves as a background texture and unifier of the nature theme. Excerpts from Ecclesiastes as well as core values including integrity, justice, reverence, and stewardship run through the art.” (artist Kari Minnick’s statement). Walk down the hall a bit after viewing Kari’s piece and you will smile once again as you look up at a colorful hanging sculpture by San Francisco artist Daniel Goldstein. “This sculpture offers a visual metaphor for the harmony that results when individuals use their special gifts to serve a collective project: offering the public access to knowledge and better health.” (artist’s statement)