Being in a hospital for any reason can be a frightening experience. The plain, white walls can give patients a sense of boredom. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals, or simply Healing Photo Art, is a different kind of non-profit. Their mission is to create a better hospital environment through their photographs. Healing Photo Art will place calming photos on the hospital walls. These photographs help to add color and cheer to the hospital. Looking at the photographs also give patients, their families, and the hospital workers a sense of calm and serenity. The photos are usually of natural subjects, like beaches. Healing Photo Art depends on funding to cover the prices of activities like shipping, so the photos can be of little or no cost to the hospitals.
Healing Photo Art was founded by a photographer named Elaine Poggi in 2002. While Elaine was born and raised in Florence, Italy, she left in 2001 after her mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Elaine stayed with her mother for about three months, giving her important assistance and companionship. However, she and her mother felt constantly lonely, looking at the bare white hospital walls all day. Wanting to make a change, Elaine used photographs of underwater landscapes and Florence to decorate her mother’s room. These photographs gave a sense of comfort and happiness to the once-dreary room. Elaine’s mother found that the new decorations lifted up her spirit, and soon the whole hospital was talking about the photos.
After her mother died, Elaine ventured back to Florence, and had a realization. If those photos had given her mother such happiness, then perhaps she could do the same for other patients! Drawing on her previous understanding of what photos could do, Elaine set out to do the same in other hospitals. Her desire is to give those staying in hospitals the same joy she gave her mother by placing soothing nature and landscape photos all around. Since founding Healing Photo Art, the yearning for Elaine’s photos has only increased. To date, over 7,000 photos have been administered to more than 400 health care spaces on all seven continents!
The mission of Healing Photo Art is a simple one: to place calming photos in hospitals everywhere. However, the simple act of using these photographs has an incredible impact. Nature art has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in hospital patients. Healing Photo Art supports the research that connects the link between a camper hospital environment and a patient’s mental and physical health. Patients are the people that Healing Photo Art helps the most. Evidence shows that these photos can help to lower blood pressure, lessen the need for medication, and provide a distraction from the stress of being at the hospital.
Healing Photo Art uses the most up-to-date research in their work. There have been both American and Italian studies. The most important study, “Beyond traditional treatment… establishing art as therapy,” was conducted by three cancer centers in Italy – Ancona, Perugia, and Messin. The study showed that the patients greatly preferred the walls to be decorated with art, as opposed to being left blank.
One hospital where Healing Photo Art made its impact is Byron Bay Hospital. Jim Hourigan distributed 30 photos to the hospital’s Mental Health Unit. Kathryn Blaich, the Senior Occupational Therapist at Tuckeroo, deeply appreciated what Jim was doing for the hospital. "Art and nature are very powerful healing modalities, so to have these pictures hanging around the unit will be wonderful for the people staying here,” she had said.
Art , H. P. (2022, March 26). Scientific research on art for healing: Foundation for healing photo art in Hospitals. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://healingphotoart.org/about-us/scientific-evidence/
Art , H. P. (2021, November 12). Healing hospital art. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://healingphotoart.org/
Art , H. P. (2022, March 23). Healing through art: The foundation for photo art in Hospitals. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://healingphotoart.org/about-us/mission/
Art, H. P. (2019, June 14). Elaine Poggi: Founder of the Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://healingphotoart.org/about-us/history/
GreatNonprofits, G. N. (2022, May 13). Foundation for photo/art in hospitals reviews and ratings: St. Louis, MO: Donate, volunteer, Review. GreatNonprofits. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://greatnonprofits.org/org/foundation-for-photo-art-in-hospitals
Star, N. (2021). The Healing Power of Photographic Art | Daily Telegraph. The healing power of photographic art. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/lismore/the-healing-power-of-photographic-art/news-story/f7175b62c80656ffb53b36c731728552
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