The Art of Caring
Reflection on Arts in Health—The Zombie Princess
Claire de Boer, MS; Daniel R. George, PhD MSc; Michael J. Green, MD MS
The messages conveyed by art always matter, especially when the art is displayed in healthcare environments that are frequented by vulnerable patients, family members, and healthcare providers. Though art can be (and often is) beautiful, sometimes it is not. And even when it is beautiful, a particular piece might work well in one clinical area but not another.
The challenge of sensitively placing art in a hospital was brought to my attention recently when I (Claire deBoer) was approached by a hospital administrator regarding a request to install a donated painting in our children’s hospital. The painting is unconventional, displaying a disembodied hand holding a multicolored rag. My immediate response to it was threefold: 1) technically, it was quite an interesting image; 2) a hand jutting out of the darkness and clutching a ragged piece of fabric would not likely have much therapeutic value for our patients; and 3) I would really like to hear the story behind the painting.