Ann Walker

NAP Coordinator
Ann Walker
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, WA joined The National Arts Program® after learning about our program at the Society for Arts & Healthcare conference last Spring.  Kevin Benson knew that the NAP would be a perfect addition to their already established Arts in Healing program and that Ann Walker, the Arts and Healing Program Coordinator, was the perfect person to head up the new endeavor.
After hosting their First Annual Exhibition in March, which displayed more than 190 piece from 119 different artists, it was clear that Ann was just the right person.  Her passion for uniting the arts and healthcare within the hospital setting is obvious, but even she was blown away by the number of artists who wanted to participate in the exhibition.
Here is what Ann had to say about their first experience with the NAP ...
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit put on at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center?
A. It has been many years since there has been an art show at Sacred Heart. From what longtime employees have shared with us, the NAP show was much bigger in scope and encouraged more participation because of the opening reception and monetary awards. The guidance from The National Arts Program® offered us a tried-and-true structure to follow, which made our first show a great success.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. Displaying employee artwork boosted morale in an often fast-paced and stressful work environment. It offered staff members a chance to see another side of their co-workers. It offered patients and their family members the opportunity to see the creative side of those people who took care of them while in the hospital. Displaying the artwork was a reminder of the humanity of each and every person who spends time in the hospital—whether a staff member, patient or family member.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork?
A. We were overwhelmingly pleased with the high number of registrants for our first show. We have heard nothing but positive feedback from employees; both those who participated and those who enjoyed viewing the artwork. We expect many more participants next year!
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in the hospital is so important?
A. One of the goals of the Arts in Healing program at Sacred Heart is to create a healing environment through exhibiting artwork. The National Arts Program® show not only enabled us to add to the hospital’s healing environment through the display of artworks, but also provided great publicity for the Arts in Healing program within the hospital and in the larger community as well. The positive response to the show has given us leverage to display more artwork in the hospital in the future.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. The National Arts Program® offers an opportunity to people who may not otherwise get the chance to display their artwork. Additionally, exhibiting the artwork in the hospital offers people who may not go to a gallery or museum the opportunity to view great art.
Q. Do visitors to the hospital respond to the employee exhibit?
A. We had no formal way of gathering responses from visitors, but staff who worked near the exhibit told us a number of stories about how impressed visitors, patients and family members were with the show. The show definitely caused a buzz amongst staff, visitors and patients.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. Given that this was our first year, we have nothing with which to compare the online registration process, but it definitely made things straightforward and simple. It was great to have all of the data stored in one easy-to-access location for creating email distribution lists, seeking out volunteers, creating labels, etc.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. Art has always been very important to me. As an artist and art therapist, I believe strongly in the power of art as a vehicle for expression and communication. Sometimes we don’t even know what inside us needs articulation, but art is a way of tapping into our subconscious goldmines of expression and wisdom. Art allows us to communicate the difficult, mysterious things that sometimes cannot adequately be put into words.
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 have been creating art as long as I can remember in one form or another. As an art therapist I focus much more on the process rather than the product of art making and work in a very intuitive, organic way. My artworks typically emerge in the process rather than from a set plan. I enjoy creating mixed media pieces, which often seem to focus on growth—on being and becoming.
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc.
A. We are very grateful to the National Arts Program for making this show possible. Thank you for your guidance and support, which made the show a great success.