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Queens Chronicle

Art is therapy at Jamaica Hospital

Patient creations adorn main lobby in second annual JHMC exhibition

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:25 pm, Thu Apr 3, 2014.

The medical community has known for years that art can be beneficial for patients suffering from various forms of mental illness.

But officials at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center have taken it a step further, taking several pieces created in the last year and putting them on display for the hospital community and the public in its neighborhood of the Van Wyck Expressway.

Michelle Hololob, a creative arts therapist at the hospital, said the 50 pieces put on display between March 17 and 21 in the main lobby were created by patients who had been admitted to the psychiatric unit in the last year.

She also said patients are mostly receptive to the idea of displaying their work.

“Art is an expressive outlet,” she said, explaining that a drawing, sketch or painting can give therapists some insight to help their charges.

This year’s theme — “Me” — was suggested by hospital Creative Arts Therapist Heather Grey.

“We encouraged them to create pictures of how they saw themselves,” Hololob said.

The media included pencil, paint, ink and crayon. There also were two collages that were group efforts.

One of the patients, a professional artist, submitted works in acrylic pant and the tricky medium of watercolor paint.

They were displayed on wooden easels that the hospital’s engineering department crafted last year when officials were struggling with just how to display their patients’ creations.

Most of the works showed faces; some more than one. Another showed a chick in various stages of development within its egg before breaking free.

“We weren’t really aiming this at the arts community as much as the hospital and neighborhood communities,” Hololob said. She said the grand unveiling on March 17 was fairly well-attended, and that even a former patient or two came by to see their works on display.

One of the collages was a large collection of faces taken from pictures in magazines and glossy ad circulars. The aim of that work was to show something reflecting not only the composition of the patient population but the diversity of Queens.

“We do have the most diverse county in the country,” Hololob said.

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