Caring for Cancer Patients in all 50 States
PaintFest America: Comforting Cancer Patients Through Art
In 1984, The Foundation for Hospital Art was formed from the idea that art can help healing, and that anyone with a brush can help create. For over 30 years since then, FFHA has been placing murals in hospitals and medical facilities across the globe.
FFHA has worked tirelessly with over one million volunteers and is on its way to achieving its goal of placing artwork in every hospital in the world. This summer, FFHA got one step closer. And this time, its work was much closer to home.
The idea for PaintFest America came from Scott Feight, the FFHA Executive Director. The initial concept was simple: unite cancer patients across the country through the common goal of care and comfort. The execution, on the other hand, was quite complex and depended on the dedication of cancer centers all around the country. In 50 days, FFHA set out to paint and donate a total of over 200 murals across 50 cancer facilities in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. The mission became one state per day for 50 days. FFHA staff and volunteers traversed across the country beginning on July 5th in Washington D.C. Its team traveled from east coast to west coast, from north to south, and stopped by everything in between, until the PaintFest America finale on Aug. 23rd in New York City.
Each participating hospital and cancer center painted between three and ten murals. Each image depicts living things, such as plants and animals, in order to bring life and vibrant color to sterile hospital walls. The FFHA designed a custom mural entitled “America the Beautiful” that each state was able to paint. The mural was inspired by Katharine Lee Bates’s historic lyrics and was a patient-favorite at every stop. The murals will soon be on display at the facilities where they were painted and will remain there for years to come.
Additionally, cancer patients and survivors joined hands and painted part of the national mural, entitled “Stars of Hope.” For this special piece, each state’s panel depicts the state bird and flower superimposed upon stars and a map of the United States. A ribbon, signifying hope, flows throughout the entire design. On the final day of the tour, all 50 panels were assembled in New York for all to see. The mural was more than art; it represented the beautiful stories of cancer patients in every state across this wonderful country. The power to overcome was on full and colorful display.
“If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, it’s a significant moment in your life,” FFHA Executive Director, Scott Feight, says, “and art gives you an opportunity to step away from that. Art allows you to express what you’re going through in a helpful and impactful way.”
The point of PaintFest America was to bring people together through art all over the United States, but the project ended up achieving something more: it brought hope, healing and brief reprieve to hundreds of patients, family members and hospital staff members. PaintFest America honed in on creating beauty in the midst of hardship, and for many cancer patients and survivors, the few hours they spent painting did just that. Now their time and dedication will be transformed into warm, cheerful murals that will continue to spread comfort to patients for years to come.
The Foundation for Hospital Art has donated 44,000 paintings to more than 4,000 health care facilities located in 195 different countries. More than one million volunteers have helped to make this possible.