In an effort to help patients and visitors ease feelings of stress and anxiety, Mon Health Medical Center has transformed its main entrance. No longer just a conventional hospital lobby, it has become an expertly curated art gallery, the product of a partnership between the hospital and Arts Mon. The partnership provides space for working artists to display their works and aims to lift the spirits of patients and visitors walking through the hospital’s front doors.
“Beth Keener-Flanery, the executive director of Arts Monongahela, was contemplating this concept of a gallery without walls and was looking for a place to pilot it,” says Aimee Harris, the director of volunteer services at Mon Health. “And I thought, we’ve got a great display space here—plus, we’re community-based, so we are always looking for ways to partner with other organizations, especially nonprofits.”
The concept came to life in October 2019 with the first exhibition: Just What the Doctor Ordered, sponsored by MVB Bank. The exhibitions will rotate quarterly, Keener-Flanery says, and will display the works of local and nationally recognized artists as well as pieces borrowed from the Monongalia Arts Center.
The current exhibition, sponsored by the Mon Health marketing department, is called 3/6: Shape, Color, Texture. “The elements of art and design are line, shape, space, value, color, and texture,” says Keener Flanery, who curates the exhibitions. “These elements are evident in each of the works on display. But we are focused on three of the six for this particular exhibition: shape, color, and texture. We wanted to share work that was uplifting, engaging, and colorful.”
The artwork ranges in nature from photographs and paintings to sculptures and beyond and is displayed primarily in the hospital’s lobby and on the second-floor catwalk above the registration desk.
Although a hospital may seem like an unconventional place for an art gallery, Keener-Flanery says it perfectly fulfills art’s purpose of providing its viewers with an escape. “Art really is for the people, so we should put it where they are so they can see it and respond,” she says. Not only that, but the presence of art has also been linked to a greater sense of well-being among those who are exposed to it.
“There’s a great deal of research about how and why art in health facilities brings healing elements to more than just those patients who have to be there for their stays, but also to their families,” says Keener-Flanery. “It creates a way for them to be able to get away for a moment and step out of that stress.”
Employees at Mon Health also benefit from the lobby’s makeover, says Harris. “It’s fun to see employees gather in groups at one piece or another, having discussions about what they’re looking at,” she says. “This can be a high-stress place to work, so it’s a good way for the staff to decompress, too.”
All of the works on display at Mon Health Medical Center are for sale through Arts Mon. Those interested in sponsoring an exhibition or purchasing a piece of art can contact Keener Flanery at email@example.com.
written by Kaylyn Christopher
image courtesy of Emily Gallagher/Mon Health Systems