Healing power of art comes to the hospital

Exhibition of local artists’ works will be held June 14 at the Penticton Regional Hospital

The Healing Power of Art will soon gain the public spotlight at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The grand opening for this exhibition of local artists’ works will be held June 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the hospital cafeteria, where the works will remain on display for the next three months through to Sept. 4.

The event also includes works by young photographers who have been patients at PRH. Part of their treatment involves producing art — in this case photography.

Related: Arts Matter column on the Healing Power of Art

Dr. JoyAnne Krupa, one of three resident physicians involved in organizing the exhibition and an artist herself, said the health benefits of art shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Healing and art have traditionally always gone together. It’s just in our modern society that we’ve gone to a more sterile, utilitarian approach,” she said. “Now there’s research coming out on how art actually affects people’s recovery, attitudes and depression, and physiological things.”

This includes recovery times, heart and respiratory rates, and the amount of prescription drugs required, added fellow resident physician Dr. Rebecca Psutka. Dr. Jackie Bourdeaux is the third resident doctor involved.

“There was quite a famous study in the U.S. where patients either looked out windows at trees with foliage or looked at a brick wall,” Dr. Psutka said. “Not every hospital can rebuild so that every window faces trees, so art is another way to utilize that.

“Patients actually have improved outcomes when they see art in hospitals. They spend less time in the hospital, lower rates of narcotics and less post-op complications.”

The exhibition is being launched through Penticton Regional Hospital’s newly-formed arts committee which has expanded its scope to install art into the entire hospital, not just in the new patient care tower. Most artist renderings will be rotated on a regular basis.

The arts committee will also be accepting proposals from the community for future projects including poetry, performing arts, music and fine arts.

Current plans call for art to be displayed only in public spaces of the hospital such as hallways, waiting areas and lounges, rather than individual patient rooms. There could also be performing arts — either live or on video — at a later date.

The Penticton Arts Council is also involved. Executive director Vaelei Walkden-Brown said the hospital/art proposal has gained their enthusiastic support.

“My background is in interior architecture and I think the value of art in any space has the ability to create change and dialogue,” she said. “In this case, it would also help ease suffering and help facilitate healing.”

Images of artists’ submissions, along with the media and dimensions of each work, should be submitted as soon as possible by emailing director@pentictonartscouncil.com. A juried selection process will follow.

The Healing Power of Art’s June 14 launch is open to the public and will include short introductory speeches, music, appetizers and plenty of opportunity to meet the artists.

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