Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Students discover connection between art and healing

Sherwood adds to the new art gallery at Providence-Newberg.
by: , Students who took part in the Youthful Art Healing Project admire the work of Middleton Elementary School.

Providence Health System boasts that the just-opened Newberg Medical Center features a number of elements that can lead to happier, and even healthier, patients.

Sherwood students can boast that they were a part of creating that patient-friendly environment.

About 70 students from Middleton Elementary and Sherwood High School contributed to the 112-pieces of art that will be permanently displayed in the medical center. Students, parents and artists got a sneak peak of how their work will brighten the halls of the hospital June 6, when about 400 people attended a preview of the hospital's Youthful Art Healing project.

Through grants from foundations and local donors, Providence Newberg offered hundreds of young community members the opportunity to take part in the project, including students from Newberg, St. Paul and Dundee. Local artists submitted ideas to a selection panel. The panel then paired up teachers and classes with artists to create the art for the project.

'We basically formed an art committee with about seven people that just brainstormed together on what was the best way to go about getting original, gallery-quality healing art on the walls,' Providence Newberg spokesman Garrett Brennan explained. 'We paired [students] up with professional artists. It was an artists-in-residence program, essentially, that we helped facilitate, where the artists spent time in the schools talking about healing colors and healing shapes.'

"Listening to music or viewing art is a therapeutic, healing experience,' added George Weghorst, M.D., medical director for Providence Newberg and the Yamhill Service Area. 'The creation of art can also have a calming affect. So when children paint or draw or sculpt, they enter a state of mind that has a meaningful impact on their body's capacity to heal and to prevent disease."

Sherwood High School students worked with artist Greg Lewis for several weeks to create two murals, 'Soul of the Earth' and 'Soul of the Family.' Artists Eileen Cotter Howell and Barbara Mason spent about seven weeks working with fourth and fifth grade students at Middleton Elementary to create 'Messengers.' The brightly colored work features 50 panels, each a square foot and painted with a different bird. Fourth grade teacher Emily Conrad said the artists first looked over birding books with students, taught them to sketch different birds, and then went through a practice painting before producing the final product. The students also made wooden prints of each of the 50 panels, and wrote short depictions or stories about each bird.

'They just loved it. Anytime they get to do something different is great, and it's really hard to get teachers to put such an intense interest in something like art when we're pulled in so many directions,' Conrad said of the project. Her class spent half of the day every Friday working closely with the artists. 'I have a lot of very artistic students, and they felt like they were doing something at school they were really good at.'

The Youthful Art of Healing Project began in February 2006 with an art therapy workshop at the old Providence Newberg Hospital. Artists and teachers learned about the healing qualities of creating and viewing art. They were given the color palette of the new medical center interior, and learned what shapes and color patterns would be healing in an environment like a hospital.

Providence Medical Center held its grand opening ceremonies in June. The 175,000-square foot facility is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver-certified hospital on the West Coast. LEED is a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage and support the construction of energy efficient buildings. In addition to the healing art project, there is also a healing garden outside, natural light in every patient's room and an advanced ventilation system that does not recycle air. The medical center is located at 1001 Providence Drive in Newberg, just off Highway 99W.