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Immersive art promotes healing at children’s hospitals

At the core of RxART’s philosophy lies a profound acknowledgment of the connection between environment and healing, a link that becomes particularly paramount within pediatric healthcare. Founded in New York in 2000, RxART is a nonprofit organization that harnesses the transformative power of visual art to revolutionize the ambiance of children’s hospitals. Through collaboration with contemporary artists, RxART converts these spaces from clinical settings into sanctuaries of hope and positivity, providing young patients and their families with a comforting retreat during difficult times.

Expansive Reach and Impact

Guided by the mission to facilitate children’s recovery through art, RxART’s efforts have spanned 61 projects incorporating 93 artists across 39 hospitals in 24 cities throughout the United States. These projects have impacted the lives of more than 3.4 million patients, turning numerous hospital visits into experiences of comfort and upliftment.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Installation

The Molly Blank Fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has recently supported an installation at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The artist selected for this art installation, Shara Hughes, celebrated for her vibrant landscapes and imaginative style, was tasked with rejuvenating the hospital’s central corridor and elevator bay—areas visited by nearly every patient—with her artwork. It has become RxART’s largest project to date. Hughes’s work has transformed these common areas into serene, colorful sanctuaries, providing relief and igniting the imaginations of the estimated 70,000 patients who frequent the hospital annually.

Transformative Experiences and Positive Feedback

“Following the completion of the project, a young member of the advisory board conveyed her excitement about the transformation—she had never anticipated the hallway could become such an uplifting visual journey that made traversing the pathway more bearable,” shares Hannah Kolb, the Development and Outreach Associate at RxART. “Such heartening feedback reinforces our belief in the significant difference we are making in the hospital experiences of young patients,” she adds.

Selecting the appropriate artist for each project involves a meticulous process to ensure the art complements the hospital environment and community. Committed to using medically approved materials, RxART collaborates with architects, photographers and designers to produce transformative, durable and safe artwork for medical settings.

Transforming Fear into Fun

A notable event in RxART’s history occurred in 2019 following the completion of a multi-room project by artist Rob Pruitt in the radiology unit at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Pruitt’s maritime imagery enveloped a CT scanner, transforming a once nondescript medical device into an unexpectedly styled life preserver topped with a playful seagull.

“A young girl required to undergo CT scans annually informed us she had previously felt as though the machine would swallow her—but now it was fun! To us, converting a scanner from a source of fear to something enjoyable marks a significant triumph,” says Kolb.

Looking to the Future

Looking to the future, RxART aims to broaden its influence across more hospitals, enhance its methodologies for measuring project impacts, and partner with child life departments and other child-focused organizations to develop meaningful and sustainable outreach programs.

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