The Artist-in-Residence (A-I-R) program at MHMC supports the therapeutic goals of helping patients maintain their integrity and links to the community. Adrian Hill defined the artist's role to hospital and healing in Art vs. Illness (1948). Contemporary efforts have integrated art into the environment of hospitals, rehabilitation programs, and long-term care facilities. At MetroHealth, we have a unique program that bridges the hospital and community in promoting art and bringing in artists and art shows.
The Artist-in-Residence program became possible through philanthropic support. A significant gift to the MetroHealth Foundation to benefit both patients and their families reflects the interests and values of the donor, internationally known for developing the largest corporate art collection and for her support of the arts. Dr. Gary Clark, Medical Director for MHMC's Center for Rehabilitation, states "we are grateful for the generous donation which enabled us to establish this program, and put a different perspective on the 'art' of health care. The pleasure and sense of patient accomplishment when they create a painting or sculpture, confirms the therapeutic benefits of art." Dr Clark created a committee of his administrative staff, members of the Activity Therapy Division, and Karen Peterson, Executive Director of the Center for Therapy through the Arts. Guidelines were developed to provide patients, their families, and employees with the opportunity to create art while experiencing the positive impact on the healing process, stress reduction and self-expression.
The A-I-R program delineates four goals:
- Annually sponsor four local artists to spend one week (30 hours) at the hospital to introduce new mediums and teaching skills to patients and staff.
- Provide art experiences to enhance patients' satisfaction and quality of life while reducing stressors and managing pain.
- Incorporate staff education and development for the art therapy program and activity center staff.
- Offer to the whole hospital staff lunch and dinner lectures in addition to two evening employee classes, culminating in an art display and reception in the hospital's central atrium.
Hosted by Art Studio's art therapists, local artists become part of the week's therapy calendar. Several weeks prior to their residency, the artist meets with staff to present their ideas and techniques, learn of staff expectations, tour the Art Studio, discuss supply needs, familiarize themselves with the patient populations by touring Occupational and Physical Therapy gyms, and provide a "hands on" experiential of how patients will participate with the artist. A stipend of $1,500 and costs of materials is available through the grant. With four artists per year, the A-I-R program has funds for over five years!