Back in April, the Parkview Healing Arts program was featured in a piece Geoff Edgers did for The Washington Post called “Where do your NEA dollars go? What we learned on an Indiana road trip.” In the segment, a Parkview nurse, asked to contribute to a painting being facilitated through the program, had a very touching reaction to her artistic timeout. We invited Diane Gaby, visual artist, Parkview Healing Arts, to tell more of the story behind the now completed masterpiece (pictured above) that prompted such an emotional reaction.
How did you develop the concept for this piece?
I’ve developed similar projects for other areas of the health care system as well. It’s part of my responsibility to engage staff and caregivers so they get the benefits of creating, which releases chemicals into the central nervous system. It made sense to me to devise a way for them to be a part of something bigger that they could work on for a moment, and then go about their day. Humans have used their hands to make art for self-expression since before recorded history. It doesn’t have to be intimidating.
How did you engage coworkers in the project?
I approached them and introduced myself. I invited them to take part in the Healing Arts experience, always assuring them that it was approved and encouraged by Parkview. I made sure they knew it wouldn’t take up very much of their time. Once they began I would encourage them to take a moment while they were working and allow themselves to feel good about the fact that they were on a team doing important work. I would point out that their talents and individuality overlaps within their professional world, creating a safety net for patients. I would explain that the piece signifies the entire unit.
What sort of reactions did you get?
In the end, the painting represents hundreds of moments spent with caregivers and staff over the past 2 ½ years. Each name appears on the piece. Their sentiments ranged from "It was relaxing” to “exhilarating,” and “fun.” They appreciated the nice break in their day and some even mentioned that the project reminded them of art they or a loved one created in the past. And yes, there were some tears. Their job isn’t easy!