UW News

May 2, 2014

Healing art at Hall Health

UW News

"Falling Leaf," a photograph on the third floor of Hall Health Center.

“Falling Leaf,” on the third floor of Hall Health Center.Joan Palmiter Bajorek

What began at UW Medicine’s Hall Health Center as a simple effort to “make the walls look pretty” after renovations has become an eclectic permanent collection of art by students, staff and faculty that’s well worth touring.

And a couple of times a year, Mark Shaw, the center’s director of health promotion, arranges exactly that. The next Hall Health Art Walk will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m., May 6.

An extensive remodeling project in 2010-11 gave rise to a committee of faculty, staff and students and a small budget to solicit work from area artists that would fit well in the healing atmosphere of a medical clinic. After all, when having blood taken or awaiting an exam, it’s nice to reflect on a calm, artistic scene.

"Sisters," a sculpture by UW art student Julie Zappone.

“Sisters,” a sculpture by UW art student Julie Zappone.Peter Kelley

In fact, art and healing is a theme on which Shaw is something of an evangelist. He gives a talk during each art walk titled “How Art Can Enhance the Healing Process.”  That presentation will be at 6 p.m. in the center’s conference room, G-81.

“Research has shown that art can aid in physical, mental and spiritual recovery by relieving anxiety, reducing stress and decreasing a patient’s perception of pain,” Shaw said. The aim of the art, he said, is to “add to the patient experience by having creative expression by UW students and employees visible.”

The result is a collection of about 140 pieces that spans three floors of clinics and waiting areas. The collection features painting, drawing, sculpture and lots of photographs by UW faculty and staff.

Mark Shaw, director of health promotion for Hall Health Center.

Mark Shaw, director of health promotion for Hall Health Center.Peter Kelley

Visitors to each art walk are given ballots and asked to name their three favorite works. The winning artists receive $100 and their art may be kept on the walls longer or even purchased for the collection. Artists are often on hand during the art walks to chat with visitors about their work.

Shaw presides over the art and art walks like a proud parent, and the artists appreciate it.

“I feel Hall Health is a perfect place to have some of my art pieces available to view. It strengthens my resume for sure,” sculptor and UW art student Julie Zappone wrote in an email. Her sculpture “Communion” sits near the entrance to the clinic.

Another participating artist wrote Shaw, “I think you must be leading the nation in university health center art appreciation. I think that is so cool.”

Shaw wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more information or to RSVP for the art walk, contact Shaw at 206-616-8476 or mshaw@uw.edu.