Here are a few recent images from my Common Center series. These feature stencils of animals. I sketched the elephant and the fish, but free-cut the humming bird stencil. I find that cutting paper has actually helped me learn to draw. Working with paper as a three-dimensional object helps me think about shapes and apply them when working on a two-dimensional drawing.
This month, The Post, UF Health’s newsletter, featured an informative article about the Arts in Medicine program where I work as an artist in residence.
They may come into the room armed with crayons, journals or guitar picks instead of doses of medicine and stethoscopes, but UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine’s artists in residence and art therapists have become a crucial part of healing for countless patients. And that’s just one part of how Arts in Medicine is working to transform the patient experience in Gainesville and beyond. In the 25 years since Arts in Medicine was founded at UF Health Shands Hospital, the program has become a national leader in the use of art to accentuate healing — helping patients at hospitals in Gainesville and Jacksonville, educating the next generation of arts in health leaders and conducting research that could help bring the benefits of arts in medicine to even more people.
The program is wide-ranging, from dance classes for patients and bedside art to research in the emergency room and educational collaborations in Ireland. But one thing is certain. Patients always come first.
When Ricky Kendall, musician-in-residence for UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine, visits patients in hospital rooms, he asks what songs they’d like to hear. Songs are picked for sentimental value, for memories that come attached to those melodies. And when Kendall sings and plays guitar, toes wrapped in gauze and bandages, toes under blankets and toes in fuzzy socks alike tap to the rhythms.
Kendall says as a musician in residence, he offers himself up to patients as an opportunity for creation, communication and connection.
“My job is about trying to figure out what song is going to make them come alive a little bit. I try to draw out things — a story, a positive emotion, who they actually are — whether they realize it or not,” he says. “At the very least, we’re a happy distraction. At the very most, we’re a way for someone to reconnect with who they are outside the hospital walls. We don’t cure them, but I think we do heal.”
The Arts in Medicine program, established in 1990, houses a team of 18 professionally trained artists and art therapists who work intimately with patients.
Program Director Tina Mullen says art therapists chart treatment plans using creative processes, while an artist’s role is patient-driven, fulfilling patients’ desires through art, music and the written word.