Amanda Klass, Guest Services Coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been organizing their National Arts Program® Exhibit since 2009. It was immediately clear to us that Amanda was going to be the right person for the job. Not only is she passionate about the show, but she is diligent in making sure that it goes above and beyond our expectations.
Amanda is very good at what she does and she cares about the quality of the experience for all who choose to take part in the show. She is truly a first class coordinator, who runs a top notch show for us and we can't thank her enough. When asked to express her thoughts on the Program, here is what Amanda had to say…
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit displayed at Johns Hopkins Hospital?
A. The National Arts Program Exhibit® is the only exhibit offered at Johns Hopkins for employees and family members at all age and skill levels. Rather than focusing on clinical aspects of art, The National Arts Program® allows all employees a unique opportunity to showcase art that in many circumstances would never be professionally displayed. During the few months of the exhibit, the walls in the Turner Concourse of Johns Hopkins come alive, whereas during much of the year they are a blank canvas begging for the next exhibit.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. Displaying employee art is a wonderful motivation for employees to strive for a healthy work/life balance. Engaging employees in such a competition with no limits on experience and skill can provide confidence and motivation to stay involved in something they feel passionate about. We are still amazed each year with the incredible talent exuded by employees who may not have ever expressed their interest in art, let alone tremendous talents.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork?
A. The number one reaction of employees to the artwork on display is, “I had no idea that person was so talented!” Often times, working in a clinical setting such as a hospital, there is little room for artistic expression in the workplace and talents are hidden. Employees are typically shocked to see that their colleagues are capable of creating such wonderful works of art; especially in the amateur and intermediate categories.
It is especially wonderful to see young children participating in the exhibit. During our opening reception and awards ceremony, we are always excited to see all of the young talent come out and proudly display their work. For the past three years of hosting this exhibit, we have had several repeat families participate each year. It is a great way to involve young people and their parents in a mutual love for the arts.
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in a hospital setting is so important?
A. Hospitals typically have a negative connotation attached that they are scary, cold, and more often than not, somewhere that you do not want to be. Art, on the other hand, is the opposite. The marriage of the two is a brilliant way to provide a sense of calm and peace in a hospital setting. Art is relaxing and rejuvenating. Whether participating in art as an artist or a viewer, art in hospitals is extremely important and we are lucky to have the National Arts Program® involved at Johns Hopkins.Also, over the past few years, nearly 90 pieces of art from the National Arts Program® at JHH have been donated to the Hackerman-Patz Patient and Family Pavilion, a residential living facility for patients and families while receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins. Patients and families have responded wonderfully to the art. They have found the pieces to be relaxing and healing in what is more often than not, the greatest time of stress in their lives.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. There is simply nothing like the National Arts Program® on the Johns Hopkins Campus. It is a great way to bring employees together with a common mission and interest. My favorite aspect is simply its uniqueness. It has become something that our artists look forward to each year. It is an excellent way for Johns Hopkins to recognize employees and their skills and abilities outside of an administrative or clinical setting.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. Online registration has not only been easier for me, but easier for the participants as well. It just streamlines the entire process. I can check current registrations throughout the day and make sure things are going along smoothly rather than uploading all of the information myself. There is also much less room for error when artists are completing their own information. It has been an excellent resource. I think people have become so used to doing things online, this just make it that much easier!
Q. Do visitors to the building respond to the exhibit?
A. Visitors are always amazed and excited to see the artwork on the walls. The exhibit space is a wonderful arena for art but is often lifeless throughout the year. The sheer volume of art from the National Arts Program® invokes a great response from visitors. Many stroll through simply enjoying the art and some are often interested in purchasing the pieces. Often times, employees will bring family members and colleagues in throughout the day to share their talents.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. Art is something I have always taken a great interest in, especially photography. What is so wonderful about this program is that someone with little art experience can become involved in such a great way. This program has educated and inspired me. Art has also been an important part of my family. My great-grandmother passed away at age 94 but decided at age 82 that she wanted to paint. Self taught, she was able to create dozens of gorgeous paintings that fill the homes of her children and grandchildren today. All of her life, she had a hidden talent that neither herself nor the family knew she had. Art is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. Maybe, if I am lucky, that gene will kick in someday.
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts? Are you an artist yourself?
A. I supposed in a sense, everyone is an artist in their own way, right? However, I would certainly not consider myself an artist in the professional or even intermediate sense. I love and appreciate art and enjoy photography and an occasional sketch or drawing. My involvement in this program stems from my appreciation for art and recognition of how important it is in a hospital setting.
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc.
A. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the National Arts Program® since its inception three years ago at Johns Hopkins. It is wonderful that employees are able to partake in such a great event year after year. Thank you.