This article is one in our series of “Artists’ Stories” about artists’ experiences with art and healing. Jane Zamost is an artist who received her Bachelor of Arts – Fine Arts degree from Rutgers College, Rutgers University. Her artwork is in numerous collections and she has exhibited in many solo, group and juried exhibitions. Jane is also the Healing Arts Program Coordinator, Capital Health, located at One Capital Way, Pennington, New Jersey. She graciously offered to share her joyful story in that capacity and states, “I lead two lives — the first as a studio artist and the second as a healing one at my local hospital. This duality in life suits me perfectly as I love people yet adore my artistic solitude. The blending of these two worlds emerge on my canvas as my works are about hope… The faces I see, the natural world that speaks to me and the colors and movements that inspire me.” You can visit Jane Zamost’s art website at janezamost.com
Would You Like to Make Art?
By Jane Zamost
When I ask a patient lying in a hospital bed, “Would you like to make art?” the usual reaction is a laugh followed by my knee-jerk response, “I’m taking you back to kindergarten — the only requirement is to have fun.”
In a hospital setting, that’s not the norm. For the most part, patients feel vulnerable and out of control; they’re in pain, often scared, lonely or bored. An act of kindness coupled with the healing component of creativity can totally transform the hospital environment.
Since 2013, the Healing Hands Mobile Art Cart has been rolling down the hallways of Capital Health, a two hospital health system in the Greater Trenton, NJ region, allowing patients of all ages to experience the restorative impact of creating, whether it is with paint, crayons, colored pencils, collage, yarn, word searches, or crossword puzzles.
We find that the simple mention of “making art” brings to many patients immediate smiles. You would be amazed to see how an obviously fragile patient can move when he/she hears the mention of paint and a paintbrush. Nurses have even shared that the demand for pain medications decreases during the times our Art Cart Volunteers are on the floors.
My interest in the healing arts began in college and then life zigzagged a bit, as it so often does. Yet in 2013, while serving on the Arts & Healing Committee at Capital Health, I learned about the volunteer Healing Hands Mobile Art Program, and my love affair with the healing power of art resurfaced.
This program was started by Linda Martin-Mills, RN, Manager of Patient Experience, with the financial support of a grant from Capital Women in Philanthropy. Linda was determined to provide patients with the joy of making art that she observed when her own niece was suffering from cancer.
When I walk into a room and discover an inconsolable youngster, within minutes of creative play we are painting and laughing together. Or, when a patient in the throes of pain spies our Art Cart and receives the tools for making art, a new lilt in his voice is heard, “This is just what I needed.”
When a fragile older patient who hasn’t the wherewithal to hold a paintbrush helps me produce a painting by describing her vision – favorite color, prized flower and longed for beach — she is left with a painting of her own creation and delight.
We suggest to patients to turn on their smart phones and listen to their favorite music – two senses are truly better than one. Music helps remove the beeps, buzzes and hospital announcements that too often interrupt the calming moments that creativity provides.
About The Voluneers
Our program is run by volunteers. Our art cart volunteers have found that something happens to patients when they allow themselves the ability to be tactile. The touch of paint, the feel of a brush, the joy of finding colors that strike one’s fancy – this experience transforms their environment.
Should you live in our area (Mercer County, New Jersey) and are interested in volunteering, please find our application on line at volgistics.com