What is Arts in Health?

Arts in Health is an emerging field dedicated to using the power of the arts to enhance health and well-being in diverse institutional and community contexts.

It’s sometimes called Art in Healthcare or Art in Medicine, but whatever you call it – positive things are happening because of it! Art can help us navigate how we deal with an illness or injury, and process challenging emotions in difficult times. Art can foster a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and connection – especially when done collaboratively.

This is important to me personally because, well, art saved my life. I became a mosaic artist at the same time I began recovering from a chronic illness – and I truly believe that being creative keeps me well today. I believe art has transformed me into the best possible version of myself. It is how I feel most enlivened, accomplished, contributory, purposeful, spiritually balanced, and joyful. Creativity is my superpower and I really like that. What’s yours?

I remember the night I was researching something online and stumbled upon the website for the Foundation for Art and Healing, an organization that combines creative expression with public health to improve community, connection, and well-being. Their signature program is called ‘Project Unlonely’ and I thought: OMG, I have to work with this organization! I didn’t do so, but I continue to enjoy  and share many of the resource on the site:  www.artandhealing.org. I have taken their trainings, and have also studied with The Creative Center at University Settlement in NYC as part of a 2020 Cohort of artists training to become Arts in Health Practitioners. Check out www.thecreativecenter.org and spread the word: The Creative Center offers free art workshops in person and online five days per week, year-round, building community for those experiencing cancer, other chronic illnesses and their caregivers. TCC offers a comprehensive annual training program for a cohort to become Arts in Health Facilitators.

I am a proud member of the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH), a catalyst for the collective voices of arts in health; coordinating, advocating, and amplifying the impacts of the arts on health and wellbeing. FYI, this group puts on the most incredible annual conference – the best I have ever attended. When I attended last year in Maryland, the venue was the American Visionary Museum, and it was sensational and unique! If you ever have a chance to visit – you won’t be sorry. I spent hours in the gift shop and picked up many goodies to incorporate into my mosaics.

I love all of these organizations. Further, anyone I’ve ever met who is associated with any of them are awesome people. We are of the ilk… we all want to help others have an improved quality of life through creative engagement.

I hope you will make time for art today. If you believe you are not creative, you’re simply mistaken.