Healing Arts Program brightens Psychiatric Unit

Earlier this month, patients in the Galter Medical Pavilion patient testing area experienced the healing power of art through a live art demonstration. Artist-in-Residence Kari Lindholm-Johnson painted a 3½ x 6½ foot mural while patients had the opportunity to color a smaller version. The mural is one of three that will decorate the day room on the inpatient psychiatric unit.

The project was born from a need to create a more calming and welcoming space for patients on the psychiatric unit.

“Through researching art for psychiatric units, I found that art decreases anxiety levels, especially artwork that is based on savannas,” Kari said.

The murals are based on photographs of the Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve by Chris Johnson. Purchased by a restaurateur in 1969, the Texas ranch was restored to its natural habitat and has become one of the largest habitat restoration projects in the state.

“It’s a great theme for healing when contemplating restoration of land,” Kari said.

The art project has been a collaboration between staff, patients and students. Claire Waterman, Wheaton College Community Art Intern, painted the study for the murals for the psychiatric unit’s day room, and students from North Park University helped with the underpainting.

The murals will be installed on the unit this spring. Once installed, they will be actively used to prompt patient art making and reflection as well as enhance their experience in that area.

Art groups are held weekly in the psychiatry unit’s day room during quiet time. Patients are provided with paints and things to paint on and are encouraged to express themselves creatively through the process.

“Patients often say that it’s so nice to sit and relax and create,” Kari said. “They often make things for their kids or others through the program.”

In addition to the psychiatry unit, the Healing Arts program includes regular art groups on the extended care and rehabilitation units, in the cancer center, and through individual visits. In 2017, a Certified Music Practitioner, was added, bringing song to patients and families on three units weekly. The program reaches more than a thousand patients each year through art and music experiences.

To learn more about the Healing Arts Program, contact the Foundation at foundation@swedishcovenant.org or 773.293.5121.

About Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation

Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation works to inspire charitable giving through philanthropic partnerships with those in our community who want to make a real difference. We fulfill our health care mission through the generosity of our friends, neighbors and business leaders who care about the community and the health of those who live here.

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