Artistic ways to humanize healthcare for patient’s
I believe the core of Arts In Health is to value "humanization" within the healthcare experience. It's fundamental to patients, medical staff, and for me as an artist-in-resident. It's the core to most other that values that I explored before settling on "humanizing" as my primary focus. My creative practice is a space to experiment with craft materials and ideas for projects and programs for patients that are safe and not “fine art” driven.
I have worked with patients, and I am a patient, which gives me a 360 perspective on the little details that patients face in healthcare settings. Nearly all patients scheduled for an exam or visit within a hospital are required to undress in a cold and sterile space. Only to withstand a few naked, vulnerable minutes until they have shelter under a generic hospital gown. And depending on your body type, the gown can be enormous or perhaps too small, exposing your backside! In any case, it's my least favorite part to the start of every visit. Thus I became inspired me to make the hospital gown go from drab to fab!
I began looking at both adult and children sized gowns made of both 3-ply tissue and cloth. I concluded that the tissue gown would be decorated with the least mess and executed as quickly as possible with simple Crayola markers, stickers, stamps, and even ribbon. Completely doable, ready to wear within the duration of the waiting room time frame.
The cloth gown was more challenging. It requires total coverage in fabric paint to remove unwanted patterns. Not to mention, the dry time is prolonged. Cloth gowns are a no-go for waiting room activities, but perfect material to replace traditional canvases that I'm using in my program titled "Release." "Release" is a curated patient art exhibition that I am developing, coupled with lunch and learn from the oncology medical staff and cancer support service staff regarding the arts in medicine field. Or this project idea could also be executed by medical students expressing the person-centered characters of their work and create clothes from these gowns and have a fashion show. The ideas are endless and I'm having fun tossing them around.
Both the strategy and the implementation of this process was cathartic and experimental. It allowed me to push forward with materials I don't typically use. I am thus pushing my creative boundaries for program development. As a professional artist, I find it is important for me to step back and look at materials and projects that focus on fun, distraction, and creativity not fine art instruction.