Art and Healing

In Penticton, BC we have a long-awaited addition, The David Kempe Tower, to our Penticton Regional Hospital open April 29, 2019. The hospital built in 1953, renovated last in 1973 had the tower started in 2016. It is a magnificent, much needed construction that supplies a parking garage, 5 new operating rooms, an MRI unit, 4 floors of patient beds and a helipad. Additional renovations continue throughout the remaining hospital. There is also another new and modern bit of thinking that is happening at our hospital. Art has been planned for the new spaces. Art in medical places has been successful because of the nature of art and the proven worth to both patients and staff working there.

It can inform, guide and heal.

“It’s All About the Bass”

4ft x 3ft acrylic on canvas framed $1490

Art and healing are connected through the messages in the paintings. Along with a group of other experienced artists, I attended a workshop sponsored by the Penticton Regional Hospital Foundation with the specific goal of creating art for the new addition to the Hospital. We were exploring how to think in terms of representation that would allow the viewer to step out of their current reality and offer an uplifting of spirit. Jan Crawford (BEd BFA AFCA ) a born and raised Naramata girl was well suited to provide this workshop. An Emily Carr University graduate, with years of teaching experience with the Canadian Federation of Artists in Vancouver, led us through the process. She showed us displays in hospitals in the lower mainland discussed history and the purpose of art in public places. She reviewed our ideas and lead discussion in planning. Jan explained Art Therapy as a practice by Canadian and American Psychotherapists using art as a means to explore thought and emotion. This can be used in mental health and physical health trauma. Art Therapists are part of the hospital team as a resource and must have an Undergraduate degree in Psychology, often a Masters in Psychotherapy and sometimes a Masters in Art Therapy as well.

What we were doing was creating Art as Therapy.

Creating a viewer experience for those who would be gracing the halls of the Penticton General Hospital. What a wonderful, bonding group experience it was for us to see the process develop as well as our paintings. Each of us brought a different perspective and thought to our work. A collection of beautiful art was created.

As an artist it is always my goal to connect with the viewer of my work. It is a therapeutic experience in its self. I like to capture the moments in life that we can relate to. The things that make us remember a feeling, place, person or time that made us aware of life. There are a few obvious ways that happens in a painting through skill, subject matter, color, size and composition. Additional ways that happens have to do with the technical part of creating art including medium, application, form, shape, space and value. All of this is generally not noticed as much to most people as does it attract your eye, create tension or emotion. In fact, it all has to work together in a fine balance to create an end product that speaks to both the artist and the viewer.

I was a healthcare worker for over 35 years and have a huge comfort in hospital settings and an empathy with the many people who are there for reasons beyond their own choice. I have a large appreciation for the healthcare team who dedicate their energy and thinking to healing. What a wonderful opportunity to connect with both and share my other love creating art. Much of my work is figurative and reflects people being people. I chose for this piece a double bass player from a jazz band that I had heard a few weeks ago, sitting 6 ft away at a table as he played. We were immersed in his emotional connection to the music he was lost in as he played. We could feel it as it reverberated in our own hearts. I wanted to paint those connections to music we all have, in particular this one, hoping that my viewers would relate to it both ways. The background is deliberately non-specific so it is not distracting.

We are attracted like the little bird.

As an artist I have control over all of the factors. The end product is a reflection of that control and a message created with those factors. It is said that an image is a channel through which a soul speaks. My soul says, “It’s All About the Bass”. This painting is for sale for individuals or groups wishing to purchase a painting to be hung permanently in the hospital collection or for their own enjoyment.

Julie-Ann Miller has been a juried active member of the Canadian Federation of Artists for 10 years in Penticton. She is a partner in Front Street Gallery where she has been selling her work since 2013. Her work has been accepted and shown in shows in the Okanagan and sold across Canada and USA.

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