A black and white photograph of the ocean. Boulders rise from the still water.
Cannon Beach Reflections by Dan Nolin

When a patient is admitted to the hospital, it could last anywhere from three days to three months. Although patients may have some things to do such as watch TV, read a book, or visit with loved ones (when possible), there is also a lot of free time that is often spent awaiting test results, updates, and routine care from healthcare professionals. This is where the importance of visual art comes in.

While creating art is proving to be very important for patients, the art that patients are surrounded by can affect them just as much. Soothing colors and patterns keep a calm atmosphere, can be therapeutic, and promote a healing environment.

From my experience of working in hospitals, it is apparent that the art placed throughout could use some revamping, so I turned to the experts—MCADians—to see what ideas they had for artwork in a healthcare facility, and gave them the option to share some of the pieces they are currently working on.

Hope is a Dangerous Thing acrylic on 16x20 in mounted canvas by Russom
Hope is a Dangerous Thing by Lynae Rossum

“I would definitely create something anatomy wise. Eyes are a huge part of my pieces so I think something like that would be awesome. I would also do something with a bunch of different body types and some internal anatomy to show that no matter what we look like on the outside, we are all born with the same insides.” —Lynaea Russom (she/her), drawing and painting

“[I would create] something that engages with the viewer—think Where’s Waldo or similar. Something to keep someone occupied in a hospital bed or waiting room, but also something that isn’t stressful or chaotic to look at. A visual puzzle that’s soothing to the eye.” —Hazel Bidwell (she/they), comic art

Work by Canaan Mattson
Recent work by Canaan Mattson

“I would create something warm and tranquil. I feel like a lot of times hospitals are heavy on cool colors in their artwork, but that always has a chance of seeming too sterile. I would use light oranges and yellows with greens and sparingly use blues. I would create something that makes you feel like you're at home or at least comfortable and warm. Maybe even curating the art to be so striking that it's distracting rather than pacifying.”  —Canaan Mattson (He/Him), MCAD staff member

“[I’d like to see] something abstract with a nice burnt orange throughout the work” —Skylar (he/him), print paper book

“I would create a collage of sorts with lots of details. I know when sitting waiting for the doctor I want something to look at—and it seems rude to pull out my phone—so I look at the art but it's normally just flowers or something. I would make a scene with lots of characters and details. Maybe a park with people, walking dogs, kids playing, people biking—just lots of new things to notice every time you look.” - Madalyn Emerson (she/her), comic art