Opened in 1967, the Art Studio at MetroHealth Medical Center is the oldest art therapy program in the country which places emphasis on recognizing the positive attributes of the individual and of promoting artistic expression during a patient's stay. When a person enters the Activity Wing of the Center for Rehabilitation (dedicated as the Mickie McGraw Patient Activity Center), they easily forget being on the seventh floor of a major hospital. The sounds of a popular radio station fill the air. Someone sips tea, while another is weaving. Two people are in a corner savaging through shells and bits of wood. Another two are discussing the technique of a painting in progress. A boisterous group gathers around the potter's wheel. A normal setting for any art room, one would say. However, on closer inspection one finds that most of the participants are on wheelchairs, connected to IV lines, or lying on carts.
Patients and their families working together on a project in the Art Studio become involved in a non-medical activity while sharing a common bond of productivity. Frustrations and misunderstandings sometimes arise when a family must passively stand by a hospitalized member; however, these feelings can transform into a shared experience reflecting family dynamics. A common art experience often brings together a family separated by hospitalization and illness or injury. The tangible outcome of a piece of art reflects the positive collaborative effort.
Not just a space for therapy, the Art Studio is all the people who creatively use it. Trained art therapists help patients gain self-awareness and insight into their life situation through art. They evoke feelings and help to open ways to adjust to and live with them. Retired art teachers and artists volunteer with an "art cart" that goes to the medical units. They offer patients a choice of prints to hang in the room or one of their paintings created from the patient's desire "for a calm and soothing image."
Art therapy programming is part of the Activity Therapy Division at MetroHealth in addition to recreation, horticulture and music therapy. Staff strongly believes that helping one's mind and spirit can only facilitate a stronger physical recovery. Student interns come to complete high school "senior projects," undergraduates reinforce career decisions, graduate students from Ursuline College's Masters in Art Therapy Counseling bring their creativity and conviction into our program.
For more information call the Art Studio at (216) 778-5756.