Carilion Clinic Provides Healing Arts Experience

"Depth" by Shalu Kalvakolanu, a Business Intelligence Developer, was awarded Second Place in the Amateur category.

The Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program has been utilizing the arts to improve the healing environment at Carilion Clinic since their launch in 2013. While the idea of art in hospitals is not necessarily new, the term ‘healing arts’ has taken on more significance than the once commonly associated term of art therapy.  Healing arts differs from art therapy as it expands from the creation of art to include the actual experiencing of art in ones surrounding environment.  By allowing someone to just experience art, the viewer is set free of any preset expectations or goals.

The Healing Arts Program recognized the need for these types of artistic experiences and held their very first NAP exhibit featuring artwork from employees and their family members in the Spring of 2014, just shortly after they were established.  Now in their sixth year, the event continues to be a program highlight and has become a true source of pride for those who participate.  Coordinator Katie Biddle mentioned that during the reception, “we heard our artists and their family members commenting on the value of this opportunity to publicly share creativity as well as the chance to come together at the reception and honor one another.”  Even those who did not win awards expressed a sense of honor to be participating in the exhibit proving that the exhibit helps to foster a safe space for sharing one’s personal creations and that everyone’s talents are worthy of being celebrated.

In addition, these annual exhibits have been shown to create a greater connection between employees and their departments.  A perfect example of this is a gesture made by the Health Analytics team who decided to all chip in to purchase the piece entered by their colleague Shalu Kalvakolanu (pictured), who was leaving the department.  The painting will be displayed in the department offices for all to enjoy as a tangible way of remembering a coworker and her creative talents.  With this beautiful gesture, these employees have not only honored a bond with another employee, they have changed the actual environment in which they work by adding a piece of art that has meaning to them.  Now everyone who visits their office will be able to experience an aspect of the healing arts with the simple act of viewing this piece.

The healing arts aspect of this exhibition extends outward to the patients, visitors and employees who frequent the hospital lobby.  “With more than 100 pieces on display, there are numerous pieces of arts with which observers may establish a connection. The art is therefore more than just a conversation starter – it is a vehicle for infusing purpose and meaning and supporting the human experience in the healthcare setting,” Katie commented.

Taking the idea of using art to not only transform a physical space one step further, all entries from the exhibit were photographed and displayed on Facebook providing the opportunity for anyone, anywhere to experience art with just a few clicks.  As an incentive to visit the online gallery, people were able to vote for their favorite piece for the chance to be named “People’s Choice.”  This year, 1,777 people voted, which translates to 1,777 people experiencing the power of the healing arts from across the globe.

The Healing Arts Program partnership with the NAP is just one of the many ways they are transforming the hospital experience and helping to generate a creative space for everyone involved with Carilion Clinic.