Healing Arts

By Carolyn Edlund

Art has long been recognized as being emotionally therapeutic as well as an effective force in physical healing. Artists interested in partnering with the helping professions can find opportunities to work with patients in a number of settings.


Kathy Iwanowski

Kathy Iwanowski, the founder of Creative Health Partners, LLC recently spoke about her work collaborating with individuals and groups to use the arts and humanities to help patients develop life skills, and gain self-esteem and confidence.

Iwanowski is not an art therapist, but originally began her career as a nurse. She later earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts. Her interests led her to integrate her art and health paths, and she stresses that “I’ve come across a hundred different jobs that need a creative mind.”


What types of opportunities are available for artists?


  • Working with hospital staff to present and introduce art activities to patients
  • Interacting with residents at nursing homes and rehabilitation centers
  • Bring art-related activities to bereavement groups, hospices and camps for cancer survivors
  • Working with disabled youth and adults through VSA programs
  • Integrating art activities into juvenile detention centers
  • Working with seniors and the disabled in adult daycare centers

She stresses that these are paid positions, and that the Society for Arts in Healthcare is an excellent resource for artists who want to get more information. The organization was founded by universities with affiliated hospitals, and is dedicated to advancing arts as integral to health care services and recovery.


Exhibit of work by Nurse-artists and their patients


She says, “Art in healthcare is about bringing the artist’s sensibility to a patient – to encourage them to not be afraid of trying new things and to be creative. People find that they can – and through that playfulness in writing, art and performance they are able to transfer this confidence to the rest of their life.

The greatest thing I believe is that as artists we never ask if we can do something. We ask, ‘How can I create that?’ It’s important to bring that to society.”



  1. Carolyn,

    Thanks for sharing my story with your artists. I hope it encourages and inspires!

Speak Your Mind