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Artwalk! Hall Health Becomes an Art Gallery

January 10, 2014

Mountain Susnet - located on the Ground floor of Hall Health Center [Photo by Christopher Dube]

“Mountain Sunset” – located on the ground floor of Hall Health Center. [Photo by Christopher Dube]

The UW campus continues to surprise me with hidden gems in places I would have never expected them. Hall Health’s recent remodel and new motto, “Same on the outside, new on the inside!” has transformed the university clinic into an art gallery.

I got to see all the different pieces during a special Artwalk event last quarter when the clinic was closed and visitors were free to roam around – I was impressed by the quality and variety of work featured. There were gorgeous photographs of landscapes and sunsets, clay sculptures and even works concerning mental health.

There are now over 140 original art works by UW students, faculty and staff featured throughout Hall Health’s halls, waiting rooms and labs. And they are not just there to brighten up the walls.

"Pilings" - located on the third floor of Hall Health Center [Photo by Mariana Kajlich]

“Pilings” – located on the third floor of Hall Health Center. [Photo by Mariana Kajlich]

Already in its third year, the art exhibit was created to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of visitors. According to Mark Shaw, who chairs the exhibit committee and is director of the Health Promotion Department, art has been proven to sooth and calm patients during their visit to the clinic.

“It’s much more than making our newly remodeled building look nice,” he said. “It has been shown that art in a medical clinic can promote patient healing.”

The committee spent a lot of time researching the value of an exhibit and maximizing its benefits. With the help of the former president of Society for the Arts in Healthcare Gary Christenson and the Swedish Hospital, Shaw and his team designed floor plans for displaying the art. For example, soothing photos such as cherry blossoms go in the lab draw room, a beautiful painting of a woman nursing her baby is displayed in the lactation room, and fun and colorful works such as pictures of animals are placed in the Family Health clinic. Pictures of natural landscapes, animals, scenes of everyday life, and portraits have been found to be the most effective in helping patients with stress relief, lower blood pressure and reducing the need for pain medication.

Results did not take too long to show. Patients often voice positive comments and reactions.

“Thank you for having the photo of the cherry blossoms on the wall! I focused on that when you poked me with the needle and I hardly felt a thing,” said one patient after her blood draw.

"Don't Judge My Disorder" - located on the third floor of Hall Health Center. [Photo by Erika Sherman]

“Don’t Judge My Disorder” – located on the third floor of Hall Health Center. [Photo by Erika Sherman]

The art provide an extra perk as well. It’s a great way to help with navigation around the clinic. It’s much simpler to say “Turn right by the penguins!” instead of giving an ambiguous direction.

The art works are collected annually with more submissions coming in every year. UW Photography Club is a big contributor to the exhibit. Former exhibits from Meany Hall also make their way to Hall Health. Over 70 pieces have already become a part of a permanent collection but there is always space for more. All you artists out there – mark your calendars for spring when you can submit your work and become a part of the healing process. The best three works will be awarded monetary prizes. More details will be available in the spring on Hall Health’s official website.

While about one third of the art collection is located in rooms where only patients are allowed, the rest is out for the public to enjoy. So, if you are having a stressful day, come by the HHC and enjoy some beautiful, soothing art (Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Tuesdays 9:00 am – 5:00 pm).

Valeria Koulikova and Lyuda Kim explore the healing galleries at Hall Health's Artwalk. [Photo courtesy of Hall Health Center]

Valeria Koulikova and Lyuda Kim explore the healing galleries at Hall Health’s Artwalk. [Photo courtesy of Hall Health Center]

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