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What is Arts in Health? 

Healing Hands Image and Story

The purpose of the Healing Hands exhibit is to build community. When we humanize each other, we care more for one another. I want our employees to be recognized as valuable human beings apart from their professional titles. I also want to cultivate interaction and respect across our departments and services. I'm happy to be able to put a face and story together and share them with you.


My process is to photograph employees from many different departments. These are sculptural, tight images including only the face and hands. Next, I meet with every person and invite them to tell me a story about themselves. These tales intersect with the hospital's purpose story which is inscribed in stone at the hospital's entrance: St. Mark's Hospital is erected to the glory of God and for the healing of all people. Finally, I marinate in the stories I hear and transform them into written vignettes. 

photos: Chelsea P. Rowe

stories: Saundra Shanti

Compassion Flags

The Compassion Flags arts initiative introduced the St. Mark's hospital community to Arts in Health by inviting employees to create together. Derived from the concept of Buddhist payer flags, this participatory art endeavor invited nurses and staff to create flags that offered prayers or intentions for patients, friends or family who they held in concern. Micro art studios, made from bamboo trays and stocked with art supplies, were placed in twenty-five staff break rooms. A brief explanation of how arts in health cares for caregivers, and steps with instructions for making a flag were hung above the studios. Six inch squares cut form patient gowns provided the base of the flag. Participants enhanced the fabric with art images, papers, paint, or other embellishments, along with an initial to represent the person being held. These were then clipped on strings in displays placed in six different public spaces on multiple floors. 

Physicians' Creative Practice Lunch

Once a month I offer Creative Practice for the Family Practice Residents in the hospital. I have 30 minutes to care for their spirits by offering them a space to relax, be playful and creative, and experience joy. It is my way as a chaplain to say, “I recognize how hard you work and I appreciate you. I do this because I love you and care about you.” 

We read a Mary Oliver poem about trees and then painted our own expression of "tree-ness". 

We painted self portraits...proudly displayed in the physicians' office!

We chose a crayon color, engaged our senses and imagination to write a poem about the color, and created a visual image. 

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