Arts In Medicine

An Alex Grey performance peice in front of the tile wall in the Atrium of Shands Hospital

The Arts In Medicine program (AIM) at the University of Florida, Gainesville, was co-founded by nurse, artist, Mary Rockwood Lane and poet, physician, John Graham-Pole.. The AIM program was created in 1991 in response of perceived needs of caregivers to re-humanize medicine.

The AIM program began as a shared vision of community artists who believed that that their art is a healing process. These artists began to work in the bone marrow transplant unit with patients on a one on one basis at the bedside. Over two hundred artists have gone though the program in the five years it has been in existence and they are currently working in fifteen units. Several artists have worked for five years but most artists have time limited process. The function of the artists has been to share their artistic expertise with patients, family, and staff.

The artist in residence program has become a model to incorporate the arts into the mainstream of clinical practice. The purpose of the artist in residence was to integrate the art into the care giving of patients as well as to educate staff and students into the new approach of caring. A core staff of professional artists and many students as artists have been involved in every medium of artistic expression. The program is so successful that it has spread to many units serving a broad spectrum of patients.

The current AIM calendar lists over a hundred events a month, for example an art performance series, workshops on a several units, barbershop quartets, community workshops in dance , music, and art, Tai Chi, for patients and staff, poetry readings, art exhibitions, and harp performances. In AIM there is an artist in residence for each of the therapy modalities, visual arts, dance, music and storytelling. At the heart of the mission is the work between artists and patients working one on one.

AIM also invites family, community members, nurses, and physicians, to become artists and to transform the space of the formality and sterile conventional environment of the health care system. By simply bringing an artist or a clown into the health care environment something different begins to happen naturally. It is easy and spontaneous. It brings joy and life into the hospital.

A notable project of AIM is a healing wall of over a thousand tiles created by family and staff . The six by six inch ceramic tiles were combined to create a beautiful wall of mosaic and tiles that was installed in the atrium of the hospital main lobby. Each tile represents a precious moment in a patient or family member´┐Żs life that becomes part of a collective piece of art. In the installation, the healing wall was combined with over sixty feet of mosaic reflecting the healing images made by each tile artist. Each image reminds us of the beauty and hope inspired by the opportunity of illness. Images of houses, rainbows, soaring birds, flying hearts, and people holding hands are deeply moving to patients, staff, and families walking though the lobby. They remind us that we are not alone and that art connects us all together and shares hope.