Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2016 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Boston, MA. What a great experience! Just being in the presence of such amazing people and leaders in the field was so valuable. This year had a common thread of using the term “Arts and…” to describe the many different ways the arts can work with others sectors to improve our communities. Some of those sectors can include working with senior citizens (Creative Aging), education, the military, the Justice system, and the environment.
One sector that really touched my heart is the arts and medicine arena.
At the conference, they had ARTventure tours with the goal to showcase what is going on in the arts in the host city for the convention. I went on the “Art and Healing” tour. Led by both artists and healthcare professionals of the Boston Consortium for Health, they took participants to various places in the city where the arts and medicine fields collide.
The first stop was at the Boston Children’s Hospital. They gave us a tour of the building. I absolutely loved it! One way this hospital has incorporated the arts is just simply embedding artwork in the building on the walls. There are so many murals, photographs, paintings, and collages everywhere. It definitely lightens the mood and can make you forget for a moment that you are in a hospital.
Here are some photos from the hospital:
The second stop was the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Through their Artful Healing program, they work with patients, their families, and caregivers to provide a creative and fun experience in a health facility. Programs can include a slideshow of images from different MFA collections, a discussion about the art, and a hands-on activity such as painting, sculpting or printmaking. In their Art in Medicine workshops, the MFA partners with medical school students and healthcare professionals to visit the museum, have group discussions about the art, and a art-making activity. This program really helps doctors and nurses reflect and connect with their patients on a deeper level.
Going on this tour was life-changing for me. It truly showed me the power of the arts and how medicine needs the arts to heal the whole person. It allows us to forget about our issues. Studies have shown that dance and the other arts helps to reduce pain, decrease stress, brings joy, and give us hope. Our immune system works better when we are relaxed and the arts can help do that. It can also help address different goals and challenges of an illness.
The arts in medicine is a growing field as it is now being accepted that the arts can help individuals get and stay healthy.
Here is a great video that talks about the power of the arts in medicine: