Medical Miracles and Healing Art

I’ve just returned from two intense weeks San Diego with my brother, who lives in Austin. My brother (who is just 14 months younger than I am) needed a very critical and specialized operation, and UC San Diego Health is the worldwide leader for this procedure, called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) surgery. The surgery was – hooray –  a huge and miraculous success thanks to incredibly skilled doctors and expert staff.

If you’ve been through  a similar experience, you know that you spend a lot of time at the hospital waiting for results, which can be stressful. Fortunately, the UC hospital campus was a haven of healing, in no small part due to its art.

The Jacobs Healing Arts Collection is exhibited throughout the hospital, from hallways to patient rooms. The collection includes more than 150 individual pieces, including paintings, sculptures and digital photographs.

I spent many hours looking at the art and finding fascinating details that engaged me. This painting (above), Roses and Two Lemons by Manny Farber (1996) is an oil on board featured on the first floor of Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health.

Below is another piece that fascinated me – it’s a huge spectacular fiber sculpture/canvas behind glass that appears to have been made from partially cut canvas which was sliced into tiny “tiles,” then folded and gilded.

Take a look at a couple of detail photos, below. It’s hard to figure out how this was done, but the results are amazing – kinda like the surgery!

One more small collage by an elevator caught my eye  – it reminds me of our Citra-Solv workshops:

After having time to really look at these artworks, it occurred to me that true “healing art” does not mean “inspirational” posters of hands and sunsets and lotuses (although those can have their place).

The real curative power of creativity comes from authentic work by artists whose message is engaging and intriguing like those in the UC San Diego Hospital’s Jacobs Collection.

Even when we are most stressed and anxious, carefully curated art helps us think and question – how did the artist do that? What do those shapes mean? Why do those lines feel visually serene? How in the world did the artist mix that color?

It’s more than just a distraction or decoration – it’s a comforting connection to human creativity that is ageless and infinite.

It’s good to be back home. Thanks to the wonderful UC hospital and staff in San Diego for performing healing miracles!

And thanks to the artists who help us heal by keeping us focused on our universal humanity.





18 thoughts on “Medical Miracles and Healing Art

  1. Lyn, it was so comforting reading your article. I had never thought of why art is in a hospital but you never cease to amaze me with such clear opinions and explanations.

  2. Lyn, thanks for sharing your heart and observations, glad your brother is doing well! Creative energy is the great healer.

  3. Lyn, I am so glad that your brother’s surgery was successful. Your story of the healing effect of the art collection is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  4. its such an operation. We know it to here in the Netherlands! Its been used for people suffering from CTEPH ( Chronic TromboEmbolic Pulmonary Hypertension) and its the only way those patients are totatly recovered. So very impressive! To my those doctors are miracleworkers … All the best to your brother, i hope he will have a healthy live.

  5. Lyn Best wishes to your brother for a speedy recovery. And thank you for your comments about art and healing, which has motivated me. I will hang a few pieces that were taken down during renovation. I feel the need.

  6. Yes . So glad you could have some intriguing art to help your long and trying waiting. And as a patient that roll to the operating room coud be better. Like out at University in S. A.

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