Monica Hork, the Arts Program Coordinator at the University of Chicago Medicine, worked hard to bring the National Arts Program® to the hospital and in 2006 they held their first annual exhibit. This year was her seventh running the program and they displayed more than 175 artworks from employees and their family members in the DCAM Skybridge.
Every year Monica takes this very busy and otherwise blank space and transforms it into a stunning art exhibit. Employees, patients and visitors all comment that the show captivates them as they pass through the hallway.
Monica has been working in the arts in healthcare field for quite some time now and fully appreciates and understands the important role that art plays in our lives. We recently asked Monica to comment about the NAP show and here is what she had to say…
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit put on at The University of Chicago Medicine?
A. It is a much anticipated annual event which allows the entire community to enjoy artwork produced by the staff and their family members. It creates a more personal feeling of pride in the hospital environment than any other display could. Everyone especially enjoys the amazing artwork produced by the children and teens, some of whom are talented beyond their years. The exhibit is installed in the busiest corridor on campus, the Skybridge link between two major buildings, providing substantial exposure for the artwork.
A. The excitement and camaraderie the employee exhibit creates generates new connections between coworkers, who discover previously unknown talents in their colleagues, as well as humanizing the staff members as caregivers to patients and their families. The exhibit serves as a reminder that the folks working so hard to support their healing also have other talents and interests that enrich their lives; in particular, these interests and talents which improve their empathetic and perception skills in working with others. In some departments there is friendly competition to see whose artwork garners the most attention and acclaim. The display of artwork plays many roles: enlivening and humanizing the physical environment, providing cultural bridges to help appreciate staff diversity and their connection to society as a whole.
A. Being a patient or accompanying a loved one in poor health creates stress. Providing an interesting, restful, and beautiful environment is one of the best ways to enhance the healing process by reducing this anxiety and providing respite from worry and uncertainty. Needless to say, the same calming effects transform the working environment for the care providers as well.
A. The satisfaction and pleasure the National Arts Program exhibit brings that I observe and hear from participants and visitors is what I enjoy the most. Acknowledging participants’ efforts through the awards ceremony as part of the NAP is another favorite aspect of this event. The NAP’s continued improvements to streamline the process of organizing an exhibit helping to make the required coordination more efficient. The wonderful ribbons and certificates and certainly the cash awards provided by the National Arts Program add significantly to this event.
A. Every year we receive written comments from visitors who love the exhibit and are overwhelmed by the talent displayed. Here are a few examples of feedback from this year’s exhibit:
A. Less paperwork! The online registration makes it convenient for employees regardless of what shift they work on to participant. They can register at a time best for them. Tracking of participant information is greatly improved as a result of online registration as well.
A. The power and magic of the arts have impacted me personally for as long as I can remember. Through all chapters in my life connection to the arts have enriched and supported me be it spending countless hours at a home arts table to hearing an inspirational song that changes your mood to my career work in arts in healthcare. The arts have brought new and life-long treasured friends, wonderful work colleagues, interesting travels and adventures to my life.
A. My road to the art field is a classic example of “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” Travelling from my home state of California, I took a job unrelated to art in Chicago that led me eventually to working with an art gallery that led me to the field of Arts in Healthcare. Although I wouldn’t consider myself an artist, I do love and have dabbled in painting, drawing, textiles and ceramics, etc. Any opportunity to be creative is an enjoyable one.
A. I love all the conversations on installation day from those passing through the Skybridge expressing how excited they are to see the new show and telling stories about their particular piece of art entered this year. Also, you can’t help but smile watching, say a father bringing his child after school to the workplace to see her entry on the wall. If you’re able to catch the moment with a photo, you can see the pride when taking their picture next to the work. I make a point to share these antidotes with hospital Administration, thanking them once again for their continued support of this program.