Seeing with Heart’s Eyes

Hummingbirds

There are days when I wake-up and see what a patient sees.  Bound to an unwanted bed, yearning to be free… free from sickness, free from pain, and for some, free from imminent death.

 

There are also days, albeit many fewer, when I wake-up and see what a doctoral candidate in medical research sees.  I am hungry for explanations and validation of the power of art…that the science of art can comfort and love.

 

On the surface, both are diametrically opposed and stand in conflict with each other.  One is searching with their heart and one is calculating with their brain.

 

I stand in awe of people that are much smarter than me.  God has given them the talent to take empirical data and weave it together into a beautiful tapestry that tells a story.  A story that is true.  Article after article testify to the positive impact of art on a patient’s soul, their recovery, and ultimate healing.

 

The beauty is that we need the articles, but we also need the art; and more of it.  We need art for the patients.  Their hearts are searching for something beautiful, something that reminds them of a special time in their lives.  They want to see what they can’t see.  They want to see what is on the outside.  They want to see something interesting that lifts their spirit.

 

We have a choice, we can blindly fill the space with white walls and sterile, gray medical equipment, or we can infuse color, and hope, and joy into the void.  For us, the choice is simple; we will paint and paint until every patient sees with their heart’s eyes.

Foundation for Hospital Art Trustee of the Year Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1996, the Foundation for Hospital Art lost one of our founding board members to an unexpected heart attack.  Bruno Hermann was a man with a heart full for others.  Taken too soon from those that loved him, we were determined to honor his commitment and legacy every year.  So, in 1996 we commissioned the Bruno Hermann Trustee of the Year Award.

 

Bruno’s love of life and patients in hospitals saw no limits.  Famous for his slogan, “there are no problems, only solutions,” Bruno was instrumental in the early years  in pushing our mission beyond the confines of the continental United States.

 

It is with this same determination to care for others that we recognize this year’s awardee, Junko Trainor.

 

Not that you would ever want to, but I think it would be humanly impossible to contain Junko’s enthusiasm and energy for our mission.  A business continuity planner by day, Junko is a compassionate and tireless servant by night and weekend.   Over the past year, she has enlisted the volunteer efforts of her colleagues at the Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (USA), Inc. in New York and Tokyo.  Junko was the inspiration behind a multi-city PaintFest that honored the victims and the survivors of the tsunami on the one-year anniversary in Rikuzentakata, Japan.

 

Junko, along with her husband, Win, led the Foundation’s efforts for Operation Lovejoy in the New York area by holding PaintFests every other month at the Hoboken University Medical Center, in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Here, volunteers join patients as they paint a brighter world for New York area hospitals.

 

This year also marked the 7th year that Junko has traveled to South Korea to participate in the Pfizer PaintFest.  Averaging three to four hospitals a year, you can imagine how many walls that Junko has had her hands on, spreading joy and hope.

 

We are truly blessed to have committed volunteer board members like Junko Trainor.  Without their sacrifice and dedication, we would not be able to reach as many patients in hospitals as we do.  Join me in  celebrating Junko Trainor as the 2012 Bruno Hermann Trustee of the Year.

 

Small Acts of Kindness

 

 

 

 

By Andrew Feight, Ph.D.

 

Hindsight is, as they say, twenty-twenty.  Looking back we can see the impact of smaller events on the larger course of history.  We see this in our own lives as we grow older and wiser, but we also see this in the history of our communities and institutions.  Today, we can survey the past and see how a a certain turn of events, such as a small act of kindness, can take on, over time, a significance few if any could have imagined at an earlier time.  Such is the case with the early history of the Foundation for Hospital Art.

 

Aesop, in his memorable fable about the lion and the mouse, concluded that “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”  You see, what had happened was… a little mouse had found herself caught in the paws of a lion.  The mighty feline, in what might be described as a random act of kindness, decided not to eat the little rodent as a dainty mid-afternoon snack.  Instead, he released the mouse, who promptly scurried back to the safety of her home.

 

Later, when the lion had been caught in the ropes of a hunter’s trap, his roar of anger and distress reached the ears of our mouse, who promptly remembered the kind favor she had received from the lion.  Without hesitation, she hurried to the scene and before the hunter could claim his catch, she chewed through the netting, freeing the lion and returning the lion’s earlier favor with her own small act of kindness.

 

As told by Aesop, the size of the lion’s act of kindness appears to be commensurate with the physical size of the mouse.  It was, at the time, but a small act of kindness.  For one who is accustomed to devouring much larger animals, the decision to spare the life of a rodent surely seemed inconsequential for the lion.  For the mouse, however, this was a show of compassion and kindness that would never be forgotten.  In Aesop’s telling, the lion’s act of kindness would come back to him in an unexpectedly big way.  By saving the life of the mouse, the lion had ultimately saved his own life.  Small acts of kindness, Aesop assures us, reverberate through our lives, through our communities, and come back to us in ways we cannot possibly predict.  Who knows, your small act of compassion or charity today may, one day, end up saving your life.

 

If you speak with John Feight, my father and the founder of the Foundation for Hospital Art, and ask him about the earliest small acts of kindness that had the greatest impact on the success of the foundation, he will give you a list of gifts received that range from a cancer patient’s smile at Northside Hospital in Atlanta to the one dollar donation made by another hospital patient in Los Angeles, and, then he’ll mention the original $10,000 grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.  Yes, in my father’s book, acts of kindness have a relative quality.  A smile, a one dollar bill, and a $10,000 check can all be seen as both relatively small things in the scheme of things.  Yet, in time, and in retrospect, these are the gifts that made the largest impact.

 

In 1984, as the Foundation for Hospital Art began its mission, the Woodruff Foundation provided, what farmers (and venture capitalists) call, “seed money.”  The grant was to help the Foundation for Hospital Art get off the ground, it was to help them launch the mission.  For the Woodruff Foundation, whose assets today are worth around $2.7 billion and which annually gives away over $100 million in grants, the $10,000 grant to the Foundation for Hospital Art can certainly appear small, for it was a small grant.

 

Now, twenty-eight years later, with the Foundation’s art work hanging in nearly every nation on earth and with over 40,000 thousand murals completed in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers, one can easily conclude that the Woodruff Foundation’s small act of kindness has proven a great investment of a tiny sliver of the former Coca Cola executive’s massive fortune.

 

If Robert W. Woodruff were alive today, I believe, he would take much satisfaction and derive some sense of meaning in his life if he were to learn how his philanthropy helped forward the work the Foundation for Hospital Art.  But, the way my father tells it, the smile of a patient, whose suffering had been momentarily forgotten through art, actually made as much of a difference in the early success of the foundation as did the Woodruff grant.  The smile gave meaning to my father’s work and confirmed what he himself was discovering:  painting art in hospitals, by brightening the walls and engaging the creativity of patients, can help alleviate the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our neighbors and friends.  And when the Foundation received its first un-solicited donation from an un-known donor in California, my father found as much hope in this unexpected, small act of kindness, as he did in the Woodruff grant.

 

Hope, it turns out, is no small gift.  Evidence of growing support for the Foundation’s mission, whether in the form of one dollar or ten thousand dollars, provided hope. Hope fuels our dreams, dreams for a better society, dreams of an end of suffering.  The early history of the Foundation for Hospital Art illustrates the truth of Aesop’s fable:  “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” We see that small acts of kindness can take many forms, and it makes no difference whether we are on the giving or receiving end, such acts always inspire hope and bring meaning to our lives.

PaintFest® – The Perfect Teambuilding Event

 

 

 

 

Posted by Scott Feight

 

From a meeting planner’s perspective, the challenge is daunting:  find the perfect teambuilding project that will appeal to your entire audience.  Clients are demanding and want something fresh, something impactful, and something that accomplishes a myriad of requirements.

 

A Foundation for Hospital Art PaintFest® event is typically a two-hour group collaboration to complete six-panel pieces of artwork that are donated to brighten a healthcare facility.  Teams, up to 12 members per team, partner together to create a beautiful and colorful mural-like painting that will uplift the spirits of thousands of patients, families, and medical staffs.

 

Meeting planners love checklists.  Here is quick rundown, in checklist format, citing the aspects of a PaintFest.

 

Networking

– teams bond and build relationships for approximately two hours – check

 

Achievable

– the paintings are finished within the time period – check

 

Impactful

– 6,000 people visit the average hospital daily; color in a dark place – check

 

Inclusive

– anyone can do it – men, women, & children; no physical limitations – check

 

Fun

– painting is relaxing after a long day of stressful meetings – check

 

Cost

– the average per person expense is flexible and reasonable – check

 

Venue

– the event can be indoors, outdoors; literally anywhere – check

 

Onsite

– the PaintFest comes to you; buses to offsite locations are not necessary – check

 

Food

– wrap food and beverage around a PaintFest; great pre- or post- meal – check

 

Awareness

– the sponsor is recognized on every painting that is donated – check

 

Timing

– any hour of the day – from morning to evening – check

 

Easy

– FFHA staff can handle the setup, execution and cleanup – check

 

Local

– the art can be donated to local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes & schools – check

 

The best question to ask your audience at the end is whether or not they would want to do it again.  Every PaintFest always culminates in a resounding “yes”.  The participants have a “pride of ownership” in knowing that their hands will make a lasting difference in the lives of hospital patients around the world and in their local community.

 

See you at the next PaintFest with a paintbrush in your hand!

 

Scott Feight

Executive Director

Foundation for Hospital Art

How does art impact patients in hospitals?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by John Feight

 

She said she wanted to fly…she wanted to be free.

 

Because her bone cancer had progressed unchecked, Beverley was restricted to a bed in Room 221 on the second floor at Northside Hospital in Atlanta.  Her world had become 2 North, the cancer floor.

 

CBS Morning News was there to produce a segment on how art impacts patients in hospitals.

 

Multiple ceiling tiles had been painted with the famous Jonathan Livingston Seagull soaring above Beverley’s bed…she had a front row seat to freedom…and she took it.

 

The CBS reporter asked Beverley how a cancer patient, facing death, could possibly find freedom in such a situation.

 

Beverley answered by saying “you can’t think of two things at the same time”.   Her beautiful smile made you believe.

 

She…her mind…was focused on that bird…that bird that had been created with color and form…a shape that suggested a bird in flight…it was a bird…it was Jonathan…flying without limits to his dreams.  Beverley had dreams and she wanted to live them…even from her bed…Beverley wanted to fly.

 

Beverley helped to put the painting together…over her head.  The tiles were like a puzzle to her…she enjoyed telling me how to position them …directing me on how each piece fit into a pattern…a pattern of hope and joy.  She enjoyed the game. She was  not thinking about her cancer.

 

The painted tiles transformed the blank ceiling into a bright blue sky with Jonathan soaring…reaching…searching…dreaming.  Beverley wanted to fly…to dream…to be free.

 

That thought lifted Beverley up out of that bed and for moments beyond the reality of her cancer and that bed…she flew into another dimension…beyond pain…beyond the limits of a one-dimensional thought.  She wanted out of that bed.

 

Beverley was not alone on that floor.  Margo was just down the hall in Room 216.  Margo had written a poem in reaction to a mural painted on her wall.  The poem speaks for itself…and for Margo.

 

On a Mural

 

A mural on the wall

No fantasy, no dream.

An all so vivid picture

Of a restful, rural scene.

 

A lake reflecting God’s wonders,

Tall trees, branches lifted high.

Mountains echoing his thunders,

The sun to light the sky.

 

So restful, so serene,

The lake, the trees, the sky.

Can God plan less a peace

When our turn comes to die?

 

It’s not for us to fathom

What future God has planned.

The answer to our prayers

Is wholly in his hand.

 

Beverley and Margo had let the artwork take them on a journey…a journey beyond paint, beyond the hospital…beyond cancer.

 

Positive or Negative Thoughts

 

Both Beverley and Margo knew they couldn’t think of two things at once.  They understood they could either think positively or negatively…the choice was theirs…is ours.  They chose the positive path to freedom.  While their bodies were trapped in those beds, their minds were free to fly.

 

They flew like eagles…they flew like Jonathan Livingston Seagull …without limits.

 

An image with color…an impression that they completed in their heads made all the difference.  They were not trapped in those beds.  They were not limited because of their cancer.  They could fly.

 

More than art…a chance to fly.