The artworks featured on this page—selected from recent exhibitions—draw attention to the therapeutic aspects of visual, auditory, tactile, and spatial art experiences. Seeing, hearing, touching, and moving can stimulate the senses in positive ways, promoting well-being of both mind and body. For this reason, visual and performing arts programs have increasingly been implemented in hospital, caregiving, and rehabilitation settings around the country.
Art & Healing Virtual Exhibitions are part of a new collaboration between the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU and Pullman Regional Hospital. Read more about this collaboration on our Art & Healing Overview page.
The resources provided here are intended for use by art lovers, medical staff and patients, as well as all members of our community who are interested in the relationship of art, healing, and mental and physical well-being. Interested groups may also request live discussion or a short tour on Zoom by emailing the Education Coordinator, Kristin Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Etsuko Ichikawa: Broken Poems of Fireflies
The two films featured here are part of the exhibition Etsuko Ichikawa: Broken Poems of Fireflies. When viewed together and in the context of the full exhibition, it becomes clear that these films are in part a response to the effects of nuclear energy on the planet. The exhibition produces a mixture of beauty and fear, but also offers suggestions for the possibility of healing.
In the short film Echo at Satsop, artist Etsuko Ichikawa appears to confront her concerns about the presence of nuclear energy in our world. In her artist’s talk she described the film, and other related works, as her “prayer for Japan” in the wake of the devastating Fukushima nuclear meltdown that occurred in her home country of Japan in 2011. The film combines dramatic shots of an abandoned cooling tower, sounds from nature, and rhythmic and meditative beats. It also references both the weight and cleansing effects of water. Ichikawa’s decisive movements through that space of the cooling tower offer hope and positivity in the face of the unknown, and suggests the potential for healing.
The short film Radiating Echoes – What is Beautiful? opens with the following statement: “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty is in the soul of the beholder.” Artist Etsuko Ichikawa goes on to show footage from thirteen interviews she conducted with blind and visually impaired people, ranging in age from middle school student to adult. Each person was asked to respond to a single question: “What is beautiful to you?” Combined with additional footage created by Etsuko Ichikawa, these interviews offer an inspiring perspective on finding beauty in the world, even as we face challenges in our lives.
Read more about the exhibition: Etsuko Ichikawa: Broken Poems of Fireflies
Experience the 3D Walkthrough for the exhibition: Etsuko Ichikawa: Broken Poems of Fireflies
In 2016, the Museum of Art commissioned Trimpin, a ground-breaking composer and sculptor, to design and create Ambiente432, a major new work for the WSU community which incorporates the healing properties of sound. Comprised of 12 motion-responsive resonator horns suspended from the ceiling and organized in strategic configurations, this site-responsive installation explores the sound-space continuum, demonstrating how an architectural environment may coexist and harmonize with a kinetic sound sculpture. Like much of his previous work, Trimpin’s installation combines ancient methods with scientific principles and 21st century technology. Ambiente432 is tuned precisely to 432Hz. Known as Verdi’s ‘A’, this vibration frequency recurs in the tuning of ancient Tibetan singing bowls, Stradivarius instruments, and is frequently associated with meditation and healing: 20th century physicist W. O. Schumann calculated the Earth’s rhythms at a cycle close to the fundamental frequency of 432Hz. Ambiente432 is ‘played’ by visitors themselves as they move through and activate the space, impacting their own immersive spatial and aural experience.
Read more about the exhibition: Trimpin: Ambiente432
When speaking of working with clay, artist Betty Feves—born into a LaCrosse, WA wheat farming family—wrote: “I was too much the farmer’s daughter, in a sense. You know, that marvelous dirt out there that gets turned over with a plow and getting my hands dirty was the thing that turned me on.”
It is recognized by those working in art therapy settings that the tactile and kinesthetic qualities of working with artistic materials is beneficial to the emotional and physical well-being of patients. Betty Feves belongs to a generation of groundbreaking artists who expanded the use of clay in art, very much revealing and celebrating the natural textures and physical properties of the material. As you take a 3-D tour of our 2020-2021 exhibition of Feves’ sculpture, it is easy to imagine getting your hands joyfully dirty in the way Feves describes.
Read more about the exhibition: Betty Feves: The Earth Itself
Follow the Sun: The Holland and Orton Collections is drawn from the Collection Study Center at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU. The Holland and Orton Collections contain a fascinating array of artistic themes and approaches from the romanticism of the Hudson River School to the social concerns of American Realism and American Scene Painting. The largest areas of focus, however, are works of American Impressionism illustrating a dynamic evolution of influence from Europe to America to the Pacific Northwest. Throughout it all, the landscape endured as a favorite subject representing ideal beauty as well as westward ambition and migration.
Scenes from nature have been used in medical settings as form of distraction therapy, and studies show significant pain reduction in patients engaged in such therapy (see Distraction therapy with nature sights and sounds reduces pain during flexible bronchoscopy and A distraction technique for control of burn pain). Considering these findings, we offer the majestic, sublime, and calming landscapes from Follow the Sun: The Holland and Orton Collections as a possible healing experience for viewers. The virtual gallery linked above was created using Prezi software by students in our Museum Procedures class in Spring 2020.
Read more about the exhibition: Follow the Sun: The Holland and Orton Collections