Arts for Healing Connects Grieving Families and the Hospital Community

Each year, the Evening of Remembrance event at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, CT creates a nurturing space for families grieving the loss of their child. Families come together to share memories and reconnect with caregivers through a variety of expressive art activities. Participants at the Heartstrings Chorus table were co-creating a song with music therapists, Shannon Kiley and Judy Engel, from the Arts for Healing Program. The song was to be played during the service, just before the infants and children who had passed away in the last year were to be honored by the reading of their names.

Shannon had been collecting the voices and heartbeats of staff members for weeks, creating the foundations of the Heartstrings Chorus recording. From the start of the event families approached the table in a nearly steady stream.

Often through tears, family members took turns sitting in the “recording booth” at the table and speaking into the microphone. Their voices layered one on top of the other in a chorus of loving sentiment. “Love will always connect us.” “El amor siempre nos conectará.” “L’amour nous connectera toujours.” “We love you!”

Simultaneously, Judy assisted other family members to record their heartbeats through a stethoscope. Each heartbeat, stacking one after the other in the computer, creating a dynamic breathing rhythm. The gentle sounds of the piano connected the heartbeats and voices into a cohesive musical piece. Many families had a poignant connection to heartbeat recordings, as they had previously received a legacy recording of their child’s heartbeat during their last days in the hospital.

Later, as we sat in the service and listened to the result of this community soundscape of voices and heartbeats from staff and families, a palpable bond emerged from the grief that had brought us all together that night. “Love will always connect us.”

Visceral: transforming trauma & rebuilding lives though theatre

Visceral is a documentary film about three people who are living with the impact of post-traumatic stress.

They perform musical theatre, dramatic plays and Shakespeare to help transform their mental and physical health. Scheduled for release in 2019, Visceral features the healing work of organizations like the Feast of Crispian and First Aid Arts as well as interviews with experts in neuroscience and trauma-informed expressive arts.

Find out more here!

View the film’s trailer!

Follow Visceral on Facebook

Submitted By:
Amy Erickson
Director: Visceral, transforming trauma & rebuilding lives through theatre

Storytelling for Health 2 International Conference

Storytelling for Health 2 ─ Patient Stories
An International Conference
June 27-29th 2019

The conference will have two halves:
• On Friday 28th and Saturday 29th June at the Waterfront Museum in Swansea we will host the main conference.
• On Thursday 27th June at the Atrium in Cardiff we will be hosting a student conference. This is aimed at both under-graduate and post-graduate students.

Call for Contributions

We are currently seeking proposals for papers, presentations, performances and posters. Our aims are to acknowledge and celebrate the importance and growth of storytelling for health and to understand and promote good practice in line with the theme of this year’s conference – the patient’s story. We are particularly keen to hear about projects which privilege the patient’s story as told by the patients themselves, which support patients to articulate their own story or others to learn from listening more carefully to the stories of patients in any and all areas of health.

More Information, submission forms and booking details at

Submission forms need to be sent to: by 23.59 GMT on Sunday 18th November 2018

The 1st Storytelling for Health Conference in Swansea, Wales, UK last year
We had so much amazing feedback – you can read some of it here:
82% of delegates said they were making major changes to their practice as a result of the conference….

Journeys with 1000 Heroes, Arts in Health Pioneer Publishes Memoir

Submitted by John Graham-Pole:

I’m an emeritus professor of pediatric oncology and palliative care from University of Florida (UF). I co-founded Shands Arts in Medicine with Mary Rockwood Lane in 1991, and UF’s Center for Arts Medicine with Jill Sonke and Rusti Brandman in 1995. I’m the author of “Illness and the Art of Creative Self-Expression” (New Harbinger Publ., Oakland, CA, 2000) and editor of “On Wings of Spirit” (Enhancement Books, Bloomingdale, IL, 2001), an anthology of poems by physicians.

My memoir, “Journeys with 1000 Heroes: A Child Oncologist’s Journey” has just been published by Wising up Press (

“John is a pioneer of pediatric compassionate care, and has always been a master of narrative medicine. In this memoir, he puts the latter set of skills on display, as he illuminates the journey that made the former possible. I would highly recommend this book to any caregiver.” And one from a former patient that strikes a different tone: “Finger-paints, Mr. Potato Head, play-doctor kits, mural-covered ceilings, a red clown nose, and mismatched socks…these memories flood back from my being treated for leukemia as an 18-month-old at Shands hospital in the mid-80’s. Despite my dire diagnosis, by God’s grace I remember only my whimsical friend who also happened to be my doctor. I owe him my health 31 years later. His story will inspire countless others in treating the whole patient with art and humor. It should be read by all, because it is one of a life well lived.”

– University of Florida (UF) emeritus Chairman of Pediatrics, Terry Flotte (now Dean of University of Massachusetts School of Medicine)

I Knew Him a Little, I Knew Him a Lot

“Art has power that flows beyond mere understanding.  It nourishes and sustains…indeed, some call it ‘food for the soul.’”

At For Love & Art’s genesis, I penned these words seemingly out of nowhere.  I speak it to people and gauge their reactions.  There’s an ancient and profound recognition here.  People are inspired and intuitively concur.

I am a hospice volunteer and practitioner of therapeutic art.

One of my hospice patients, “Sammy,” died last night.  I knew him a little, but I knew him a lot.  On our first meeting (for me, often awkward—so many small-talk visits before a rich relationship arises, from which intimate conversations spring), Sammy was bedridden for two weeks and clutched his bedcovers up around his chin. He seemed so very weak, distant, and frail…I thought he might pass at any moment.

I happened to have a Virtual Museum ArtBook with me and I asked him if he liked art.  He said, “sure.”  We went to The Met, digitally.

One after another, beautiful images from among the greatest artists in the world emerged: the majestic Matterhorn at dawn; a lush, green meadow graced by budding dogwoods at dusk; a young couple stealing a kiss in a rose garden, and so on.

It was the seventh or eighth image – a rustic painting of a snow-covered red cabin in the woods – during which the magic happened (image below).

Sammy exclaimed, “This reminds me of when I was a little boy and my parents let me visit my grandmother for a couple of weeks every winter in Western Pennsylvania. Boy, the snow was so high, it was taller than the top of my head!”

Sammy went on and on about these trips to Grandma’s house, how much fun he had in this winter wonderland, how scrumptiously she cooked and how very much he loved her.  Clearly, this woman was the great love of his life. He shared about her and their relationship so very wholly and generously, almost as if she were standing right beside him.

It was easy for me to listen to him without bias or interruption.  What an honor to witness someone profusely sharing such joy!  Sammy was in the presence of how very much his Grandmother had loved him, and how very much he loved her.  Herein lies the sweetness of life.

Before either of us knew it, two hours flew by, and then Sammy announced, “Mark, I have to go to the bathroom.”

I said, “Okay, Sammy, let me help you up.”  And he said, “No bother…”

…and he flung off the bedsheets, hopped out of bed (imagine my surprise), pranced to the bathroom to do his business, pranced back and bounced right back into bed – like he was a kid again.  I reckon he was…

I’ve been with Sammy for about 6 hours total…not a very long relationship, one would think.  And yet, he was a very dear friend, and his passing so saddens me.  You see, I knew him a little, yet I knew him a lot.  I’ve been here before – I’m a hospice volunteer, after all – once grief has come and gone, a sense of honor and respect and gratitude settles in:  Wasn’t I lucky to have known this great man, even if just for a little while?

Okay, a couple of things here:

1.  That conversation about the love of Sammy’s life wasn’t going to happen so quickly without the ‘cabin in the woods’ painting.  One’s experience while viewing artwork triggers very important conversations for people, and sharing these elevates the quality of life psychosocially, cognitively, spiritually, and physically for all participants.

2.  I walked out of that room in love with that man and he was in love with me.   I triumphed as a volunteer. Listening to that conversation without bias bonded us deeply, emotionally, in an instant.  One might say we were co-joined spiritually; not as “Mark” and “Sammy” but as Love and Gratitude, expressed.

3. That single conversation altered the context of Sammy’s last days. No longer was he worried about dying, having done life right, existential angst or fear of what’s to come. No, he was basking in the glow of a life well lived. He loved so many great people and they loved him. “Thank you, God, for this great ride!”

“Art has power that flows beyond mere understanding.  It nourishes and sustains…indeed, some call it food for the soul”…starting with our own.

For Love & Art is a nonprofit enterprise that partners with fine museums around the world to bring the Art Experience to people with limited mobility. We stimulate art appreciation while empowering caregivers to love people in creative and transformative ways.

View more here


Submitted by:
Mark Blair W. Lombard
For Love & Art

#ArtsinHealth #ArtsinHealthMonth #InternationalArtsinHealthMonth

UF CAM logo

UF Center for Arts in Medicine Announces New Lecturer Position

Center for Arts in Medicine
Faculty Position Announcement
Service Learning Lecturer

Position Description: Full-time, twelve month, promotion-accruing faculty position
Date of Expected Hire: August 1, 2019
Salary: Commensurate with qualifications and experience

The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, College of the Arts, invites applications from individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives for one (1) Lecturer position.

The University of Florida College of the Arts intends to be a transformative community, responding to and generating paradigmatic shifts in the arts and beyond. As artists and scholars, we embrace the complexity of our evolving human experience and seek to empower our students and faculty to shape that experience fearlessly through critical study, creative practice, and provocation. We seek a colleague who identifies as a change-maker. We seek a colleague who will prepare students to access and unsettle centers of power in a radically changing world. We seek a colleague who will position emerging artists and researchers as catalysts for equity on local and global levels.

This position is dedicated to increasing health equity by developing avenues that encourage social cohesion among diverse community members as a means of building a healthy community through the arts.  This position is focused on service learning through teaching, mentorship, research and service. This position will function in keeping with the Center’s by-laws and promotion guidelines, in arts in medicine, with an emphasis on community engagement.

Application Deadline: Applications must be submitted via the University of Florida’s online application system at by November 19, 2018. Online applications must include the following: (1) a detailed letter of application that explains how you match the particular qualifications of this position and how your work and perspective will contribute to and enhance our transformative community; (2) a curriculum vitae and (3) names and contact information of three references. The Search Committee may request additional materials at a later time.

Position will remain open until filled.

Inquiries may be sent to:

Tina Mullen

Chair, Lecturer Search


We Are Not Done Yet, Veterans Find their Voice through Writing and Theatre

Directed by Sareen Hairabedian and produced by Jeffrey Wright (Emmy® winner for HBO’s Angels in America,” two-time Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “Westworld”) and David Holbrooke (HBO’s “The Diplomat”), We Are Not Done Yet profiles a group of veterans and active-duty service members as they come together to combat past and current traumas through the written word, sharing their experiences in a United Service Organizations (USO) writing workshop.

The participants, who come from varied backgrounds and branches of the military, including the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy, share their fears, vulnerabilities and victories via poetry. In workshop sessions and rehearsals, men and women confront the best and the worst of their lives in the military, opening up about ongoing struggles with PTSD and the challenges of readjusting to civilian life. Each veteran and active-duty service member brings unique experiences and hardships to the stage, but they find common understanding and hope through the difficult work of addressing their pasts.

The project evolved from writing workshops led by poet Seema Reza, chair of Community Building Art Works, a charitable organization that develops arts programs for veterans and their communities.

Please click through the link above to watch the trailer and learn more!




a2ru Seeks Executive Director

a2ru logo

The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) seeks an experienced, visionary leader who can advance its growth and provide leadership in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration to improve the culture of higher education; and infuse a growing organization on the vanguard of research, teaching, and practice with an entrepreneurial, collaborative spirit.

A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position. Applicants may apply through the University of Michigan’s application system.

Deadline to submit materials: January 15, 2019

More details and full job description available HERE.




The Impact of a Live Artist in a Chemotherapy Treatment Room

The Impact of a Live Artist in a Chemotherapy Treatment Room
(Click through to view the YouTube video!)

Last Spring a residency grant from The State of Maine Arts Commission allowed for a project in a Chemotherapy Center. With over 130 surveys my team showed, patients were less stressed and nurses less fatigued due to the artist’s presence.

Betsy Parks-Stamm, Erin McGee Ferrell, and Robyn Courtois- Colby pleased to report that our research project sponsored by New England Cancer Specialists, Maine Arts Commission, and Artists and Craftsman Supply Portland is scheduled for publication in the, “Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.”




Meet Miguel, a Student at Snow City Arts

In the summer of 1998, Miguel was just 12 years old. As a patient in the pediatric dialysis unit, he found the long hours of sitting and getting treatment to be lonely and boring.

One day, teaching artist and Snow City Arts’ founder Paul Sznewajs walked into the unit and introduced himself as someone working with kids in the hospital. He engaged with Miguel in a variety of ways, but quickly realized Miguel had a natural talent for drawing. Most of his work, Miguel says, was “skulls and motorcycles,” which often scared people. He would sometimes throw his work away to avoid upsetting anyone.

Paul wasn’t concerned about Miguel’s artistic subjects, but instead saw that Miguel had a passion for this work and wanted to help Miguel develop it. While he was a writer and poet by trade, Paul realized that just a little inspiration in the visual arts would help Miguel tremendously at this difficult time in his life. So began the work of Snow City Arts 20 years ago!

While being a talented artist, Miguel “couldn’t write to save [his] life,” he says. After talking with Paul for a while, he informed Paul he was dyslexic, which obviously contributed to his difficulty with both reading and writing. Paul worked with him and found programs for Miguel geared specifically for people with dyslexia.

As Miguel’s writing developed, Paul made sure to keep feeding Miguel’s passion for drawing and painting. He found a visual artist to work with him and brought him books with the work of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to inspire and inform him about work he would find interesting. Miguel was also very interested in cars at the time and when a medical student heard about this, the student brought him a photo book of grilles and bumpers that Miguel took as stimulus for more drawing.

More than 20 years later, Miguel considers himself an accomplished artist. He paints regularly and his work is often inspired and informed by his kidney disease. His website and Instagram page are filled with his work, and he considers Paul a lifelong mentor, someone he still keeps in touch with to this day. He considers those moments of instruction and encouragement 20 years ago as invaluable to his hospital experience and credits that early educational work as instrumental in getting him through high school and college.

“Dealing with a chronic disease isn’t something you should have to go through yourself,” Miguel says.

He found the experience of talking with someone in the hospital who was not a doctor refreshing and gained confidence through the social-emotional experience of making art in the hospital.

“It’s a great program. It should be at every hospital!” according to Miguel.

So many of SCA’s principles held true today are present in this first relationship: working one-on-one with patients to find out their interests; tailoring a workshop to best meet a student’s needs; and creating more than just a needed distraction, but an enriching educational experience that helps advance a student’s academic career. The work done 20 years ago still happens in hospitals every day!

You can head to Miguel’s website to see more of his work and to see his work on display at our upcoming Visual Arts Exhibition beginning on April 6 at The Arts Incubator at The University of Chicago.

Submitted by NOAH Member: Snow City Arts