Last September, the New Yorker Magazine posted this article by Maria Konnikova about the therapeutic effects of music:
In a review of over eighty studies on the use of music in therapeutic settings, the pediatrician Kathi Kemper and the psychologist Suzanne Danhauer concluded that music had multiple direct physiological effects: steady rhythms helped regulate breathing and elicited increased activity in the lateral temporal lobe, an area of the brain that helps integrate sensory inputs. In particular, classical music helped improve heart-rate variability, a measure of stress and resilience, while relaxing music led to decreased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in a group of students who were engaged in stressful activities. Music had, as well, more indirect effects on both emotion and behavior, making people happier, more relaxed, less anxious, and less overwhelmed. As a result of both the physiology and the psychology, the authors concluded, music was an effective way of improving outcomes for patients who had undergone surgery, or, indeed, any medical procedure.
More research is needed, but music seems to benefit nearly everyone. One thing they do know is that catering to an individual’s musical preference is important. Not just any style of music will do:
In a recent review of the data on music use in modern medicine, the biologist Guenther Bernatzky and his colleagues concluded that, as long as the music follows certain basic parameters, patient self-selection offers the best results in surgical outcomes. If patients don’t find the music inherently enjoyable the positive benefits to their recovery may not be nearly as great.
Last weekend, Kristine Krane at the local newspaper, the Gainesville Sun, published this article about my friend and colleague, Barbara Esrig’s oral histories program at UF Health Shands Hospital’s Arts in Medicine. Barbara has been doing this work since 1999.
Barbara was also in the hospital on Friday to celebrate National Day of Listening, an initiative sponsored by StoryCorps (which is also celebrating its 10th year anniversary.) For the past several years, while many Americans have been busy shopping, Barbara has spent her time interviewing patients.
This is what she told the reporter about her journey to Arts in Medicine:
“There’s an art to listening,” Esrig said. “It’s healing. We’re not therapists, but we use modalities that are therapeutic. It’s important for patients to feel creative.”
Esrig knows this first-hand: After suffering a near-fatal car accident 16 years ago, the arts were important in her own healing process. People decorated her IV pole, and danced in her room, she said. They made her laugh.
“I wasn’t just seen as another MVA (motor vehicle accident) in room 461,” said Esrig, who is a psychiatric nurse and midwife by training.
She is also a published writer, and when she got out of the hospital, she decided to help heal people with her skills as an artist, so she joined the Arts in Medicine Program.
Part of Esrig’s own healing process was making an oral history account of her accident and near-death experience, which traveled around the country to various exhibits.
After doing her own story, “I knew in every hospital room there was a story,” she said.
With their new book, Art & Place: Site Specific Art of the Americas, the Editors of Phaidon have created a kind of “field guide” to site-specific art. It is filled with huge, lush photographs and sidebars that provide concise, meaningful information.
Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly has to say:
The most ambitious summary of site-specific art in the western hemisphere to date, this coffee-table book encompasses works that span two continents and thousands of years: from ancient geoglyphs in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to pop artist Claes Oldenburg’s whimsical clothespin sculpture in Philadelphia, and nearly everything in between.
The book is organized by country and city. This Wall Street Journal article includes the Art & Place among a list of coffee-table books that inspire travel.
Art & Place reminds us that art is made and viewed outdoors as well as in, which can be good for physical wellbeing.
All the people we spoke to agreed on one golden rule: don’t send unsolicited material to galleries and dealers in a blanket fashion. You don’t want your precious and expensively prepared portfolio to head straight for the bin. So make sure your approach is carefully targeted.
Nick Kaplony is the senior program co-ordinator for Artquest, which is funded by the UK’s Arts Council to help artists develop their careers. Kaplony said it’s pointless to send art work to galleries that only deal with established artists. He also advises artists to find galleries that specialize in their type of work.
“Artquest advises art students to research galleries thoroughly. Try to get an understanding of the work they want to show and how they like to be approached. Call them up, get the name of the person in the gallery that looks for new talent, check that they are happy to be put on your mailing list, and send them invitations to your shows by email, so that when they do decide to put on a group show of young artists they remember your name.”
Other experts suggest putting on group shows with peers and to build relationships with gallery owners over time.