Art can sneak up on you when you least expect it. When that happens, open your mind and be ready. It’s a thrilling experience.
I sliced my finger badly with a hedge trimmer…ouch! Off to the ER after pouring a bottle of rubbing alcohol on the big flap of skin. Not pretty. Doctor Dave was the weekend guy at the hospital. He was chatty and so was I. I think he just liked talking to people, while I was probably overcompensating from fear.
I asked if he had seen the art display in the main hallway. I had collected the best pieces of children’s art (with permission from parents) over many years. It was a long term, lofty goal to have children’s art displayed in a central, busy location at a hospital. Why? Art can be one of the most soothing and peaceful things for someone at a hospital. It can make you smile and forget your worries of the moment. Then, there’s children’s art, which brings all those feelings to a new level. Children’s art is pure; what is in their mind goes into their heart, and out their fingers. At a hospital, looking at children’s art can wash away a patient’s worry.
I was at the hospital for a routine check-up a few weeks earlier. I made a point of stopping by the hallway to see the art display. I hadn’t seen it in some time. Wow! I couldn’t believe how much it surprised me; Grady’s intricate lines and coloring, Mason’s Eric Carle starfish, Troy’s American flag, Maggie’s painting on wood, and Hannah’s marker drawing on an envelope that looks like it should go onto Antiques Roadshow. Looking at all the art was as good as it was the first time.
I always had in my mind how this would help patients. Then, a hospital director told me, “Jennie, you have no idea how much this will do for the nurses.” I hadn’t thought about that! My perspective was from a patient. When I had surgery at UMass Memorial many years ago, the waiting room was filled with children’s art, beautifully framed and titled. That was my inspiration! I knew I had to do the same thing at my local hospital.
Doctor Dave had not seen the art display. He told me his wife was an art teacher, and he would definitely look at it, because art was important to both his wife and to him. Then he told me a story:
“Jennie, when I was twelve years old I won the Boston Globe art contest. I drew a dragon over the city. It was eating things. The drawing was really detailed and good. I knew I was good at art when I was younger. I could tell. I loved art and drew all the time. After I won the contest my Mom wanted me to go to art school. She never stopped encouraging me to live that dream because she knew I was good, too. Yet, I wanted to become a doctor. Still, my Mom wished I would put those dreams aside and go to art school.” What a remarkable story.
So, Doctor Dave decided to forgo art and pursue medicine. As he stitched my finger, I told him about art education for young children, and how it impacts math and science. The creativity and engineering that comes from the minds and hands of artists is similar to a doctor and a surgeon. I told him that many of the best surgeons often had more childhood experiences playing outside with sticks and rocks, rather than playing on computers. His art was his groundwork, and I can say that firsthand looking at his stitches on my finger.
Art is everywhere.