Honoring the Role of Art in Healing

Molly Cones and John Beard, “The Village”

New book highlights artwork at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, with proceeds benefiting the center.

From its inception in 2015, art has been a critical component of the vision for Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, a vision centered around the belief that when curated with purpose and intention, works of art can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of patients, families, and staff alike. The link between art and medicine goes back centuries, but only over the past few decades has science confirmed what humans have always intuitively felt—art reduces stress and unease. 

Research shows that the mere presence of art is proven to improve recovery time, decrease anxiety, and increase patient satisfaction. Art is often applied to a building as a decorative element after the spaces are designed and finished but not in the case of Baptist MD Anderson. 

The building itself was designed to integrate transformative art experiences, thoughtfully curated by a team of consummate, empathetic professionals with the goal of facilitating and enhancing the patient journey. The art collection at Baptist MD Anderson required careful forethought—floor by floor, space by space—to meet patients where they are in their care experience. It is a reflection of the high quality of care offered by the physicians, nurses, and staff of the facility and a testament to their commitment to addressing the needs of the whole person—mind, body, and soul.

Enid Blechman, “Slices of the Sea”

The collection, and the story behind it, is highlighted in The Art of Healing: Transforming the Cancer Journey through Art and Design. The book spans over 200 pages and looks floor-by-floor at the artwork displayed in the center. It also shares the stories behind Baptist MD Anderson’s five major commissioned works and features conversations with the artists. The book was conceived by Baptist Health’s Art Advisory Committee, was designed and produced with the help of Brunet-García, and is now available for purchase online and at the Life Wellness Store at Baptist MD Anderson. A portion of the proceeds from each sale of the book will benefit patients of the cancer center.

“We wanted to find a way to show off the more than 800 original works of art in our building, while giving back to the cancer center in some way,” says LeeAnn Mengel, RN, MBA, CMPE, FACHE, vice president and administrator of Baptist MD Anderson. “This book has proven to be the perfect way to do both, while honoring the artists and donors who have made this art collection possible.”

Baptist MD Anderson brought together a small, but mighty, team to curate the collection and assist with developing a list of artwork requirements. The team included architects and designers Rupert Brown, Frank Brooks, and Leigh Walker; local professionals David Engdahl, Hope McMath, Ben Thompson, and Hillary Whitaker; Baptist Health leaders including Hugh Greene, Melanie Husk, Keith Tickell, Bill Putnam, MD, and LeeAnn Mengel; as well as a patient advisory committee. The Art Advisory Committee conducted local, regional, and national calls for artists to create original works that would complement and reflect the exceptional level of care of the facility, enhance the experience for patients and their families, and, most importantly, support the patient journey throughout the healing process. 

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Author: Arbus

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