There is growing scientific evidence which confirms that certain types of art, such as soothing nature images, can actually reduce pain, anxiety and stress. Based on this knowledge an increasing number of hospitals are decorating their walls with art as a way to enhance the well-being and recovery process of their patients.
Elaine Poggi is an extraordinary nature photographer who lives in Italy. I first met her when I served as a juror for the annual Manhattan Arts International “The Healing Power of Art” exhibition and selected one of her exuberant floral photographs for the exhibition.
The artist, who has been using her talent to spread the healing benefits of art throughout the world, explains: “I have been given a gift: I am aware of and can see the world’s beauty all around me. I capture this beauty with my camera, and then my greatest joy is to share it with those who are suffering in hospitals.”
When Poggi visited her mother in the hospital while she was being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she couldn’t help but notice how dreary the hospital was and the negative impact this had on patients, employees and visitors. So she brought her beautiful nature-inspired photographs to make her mother’s room more cheerful.
In 2002, after she lost her mother to cancer, she transformed her grief into a humanistic worldwide campaign and launched The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. As a living tribute to her mother this non-profit, publicly-supported organization is dedicated to placing colorful, soothing photographs of nature in hospitals. The Foundation’s message is “Humanizing Hospitals Through Healing Photo Art.”
Poggi is proud to say that since its inception 13 years ago, the Foundation has placed more than 5,000 nature photos in more than 300 healthcare facilities on seven continents. The subjects in the photographs range from vibrant and colorful florals to peaceful tropical beaches and the glorious Tuscan hills.
When speaking about how art positively enhances patients’ lives, Poggi emphasizes: “White, cold, sterile walls exemplify the traditional hospital setting, where stress, pain, fear and loneliness abound. Staring at these walls is boring and depressing. Studies show that nature art has a beneficial effect on relieving a patient’s stress and anxiety. The mood changes when our beautiful nature photos are placed on the walls, providing color, comfort and hope to patients, caregivers and loved ones.”
Through the Foundation’s Contributing Photographers Program, Poggi invites photographers from around the world to submit their art work for placement in hospitals. One photographer who participates in the program is Roberta London, whose macro photographic images capture the life-affirming spirit of Florida’s brilliantly colored flowers. I am honored that she is also member of the Manhattan Arts International Featured Artists Program.
London is grateful to be a part of the Foundation’s program and states: “Elaine Poggi’s vision, leadership and accomplishments in bringing healing art to hospitals are extraordinary. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals has clearly touched the lives of thousands of people around the world. As a Contributing Photographer to the Foundation, it is a privilege to be even a small part of a grand work.”
Poggi serves as a shining example of how to turn bereavement into a tribute to honor a loved one and bring purpose to one’s life. As she explains: “I have met so many people and created amazing friendships through the years with patients, their families, volunteers, doctors, nurses, hospital auxiliary members and hospital administrators. It was been very rewarding for me to see how my photos and the photos of our Contributing Photographers have made a difference in the lives of these people. I can’t think of anything that I would rather be doing!”
The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals accepts tax-deductible donations. Photographers who want to learn how to contribute their art to the Foundation will find details on the website.
Visit The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals’ website: www.HealingPhotoArt.org.
This article is an adaptation of an article I wrote: “Art in Hospitals Aids The Healing Process”