This grouping of two films about a pioneering Arts in Medicine program is presented along with interviews of two creative arts therapists who work in that program. “Color My World” showcases the program at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL, founded in 1990, and was made in 1998. Amy Bucciarelli, an art therapist and Jenny Lee, a dance therapist, describe their roles in relation to those of the teaching artists also involved in the service and educational aspects of the programs. The films and the thoughtful reflections of the creative arts therapists in the program provide a model of some ways for artists and clinically trained therapists to work together to serve the needs of medical patients and other providers.
The touching experiences shared by the patients engaged in expressive arts treatment remind us of why one begins to create in the first place. Participating in these programs brightened the world of many patients by transforming their experience in the hospital to one of hope, fun and healing in the midst of pain, discomfort and uncertainty. Those who facilitated creating – whether through writing, performing, dancing, or creating artwork – recognized that the stories the children shared were metaphors about healing. “Color My World” demonstrates the use of many art forms including: storytelling; art that connects people and fills the ceiling tiles of the hospital; actors performing for or with patients; doctors experiencing loss, death and dying; musicians filling the halls with soothing tones; and writers who help patients create poetry that speaks to the soul.
“Healing Words” is a documentary about the same program ten years later that shines a light on the effective practice of incorporating poetry into the lives of patients recovering from surgery and major illnesses. Spearheaded by Dr. John Graham-Pole and John Fox, individuals in a personal quest to recover psychologically and physically from illnesses that have dramatically changed their lives use poetry as a way to express and contain their experiences.
From Eleanor Irwin, Ph.D., RDT, TEP:
This remarkable video celebrating The Arts in Medicine, was made at the Shands’ Arts in Medicine Program at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Beautifully crafted, the work is an inspiring tribute to the human spirit, as critically ill patients are shown celebrating life in the midst of depression, illness, excruciating pain, and even death.
The film explains the genesis of the program, rooted in the healing power of painting. When a call went out to the community, many artists responded, ultimately resulting in a hospital-wide program with 8 artists in residence and over 70 arts volunteers/year. Playback Theatre, poetry and writing, painting, drawing and music establish a vibrant, joyful tone in a hospital that is home to medically compromised individuals of all ages. Yet the aliveness that emanates from the entire staff and patients is healing and hopeful. The film is indeed a testimony to the creative spirit as “The Arts in Medicine Program” inspires patients to be in touch with their feelings, finding freedom in the arts.
Comments by Art Therapist, Amy Bucciarelli, MS, ATR-BC & Dance Therapist, Jennifer Baxley Lee, MA, BC-DMT
Total Running Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes, 17 seconds