Vote for Art that Heals

Can Art Heal?

Here’s artist, educator and art therapist Eva Mantell’s impassioned letter to friends and family about voting for an artist-in-residence on the oncology ward of Princeton Healthcare Systems:

“Princeton Healthcare System has partnered with The Arts Council of Princeton to bring an artist-in-residence to the oncology ward. That artist-in-residence is me!” writes Mantell.  “We are finalists and now it has moved to a public vote. We need your vote to move ahead. It will help bring great art to people in the oncology ward in need of self-expression, encouragement, beauty, healing and inspiration. Thank you for your vote!”

Voting deadline: March 23, 5 p.m.

More from Mantell:

“I count myself lucky to be the lead artist for the Building Bridges project at the Arts Council of Princeton. Through this, I’ve had the opportunity, since September of 2010, to bring my love of art to people of different abilities and ages, in a range of situations, from senior residences to adult daycare to the ACE Unit at the University Medical Center. I have also been able to work with caregivers to train them to be able to use art in the course of their caring, and to use it to express their own creative potential as well. I am grateful for these opportunities as I get to experience firsthand so many examples of creativity and capability that might have been overlooked.

“My work in the ACE unit has meant going bedside with Nurse Rebecca Godofsky at the ACE Unit and creating art or having a conversation about art with the patients. Some of my favorite comments from these interactions have been:

  • A 96-year-old woman who painted with me for about 30 minutes said, “Coming to the hospital sure has changed!”
  • Another older woman who made a very abstract collage told me, “Life is about conforming and constraints.” She described her artwork: “I wanted to keep it free and open. It’s about freedom.”
  • A very sad young patient made a drawing and seemed to enjoy the process. Another patient saw her drawing and said to her, “It’s good to see you smile.”
  • I showed a man, whose hands shook, a direct way to create art through collage. He loved the process and told me, “This opens up roadblocks in my mind.”

“I believe the experience of art can be transformative, and I love working with people on techniques like printmaking and collage that embody transformation right in their process. So often I hear, ‘I can’t draw a straight line.’ Well, as it turns out, I’ve never been much for straight lines myself. I also hear, ‘I’m no artist.’ Well, I do believe we are all artists in some way, and I do believe that art can reach us all. I feel lucky to be able to share the engagement and surprise of creativity with people who are very much in need of a nurturing and positive experience.

“Can art heal? I will leave that to the doctors and the nurses to decide. I do think that the experience of art can tap into a very human potential in all of us for self-expression. It can reach the emotions and inspire personal reflection. It can encourage a spirit of open-mindedness. It can be relaxing, meditative and optimistic. It can start great conversations.

“Finally, my interest in bringing art to the oncology center at the new hospital is deeply personal, as cancer has touched my life directly in the past few years. I dedicate my teaching to the memory of my brothers, Stephen and David. Sarcoma and colon cancer ended their lives too soon, but their memories burn brightly for me. If I can make a difference through art to enrich the lives of people dealing with cancer, I will be honoring my brothers.”


From the Arts Council of Princeton:

In partnership with the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) has applied to the Livestrong Foundation to sponsor an artist-in-residence in the oncology unit. Princeton HealthCare System is one of just 11 hospitals in the Northeast that has advanced to the second round for this highly competitive national grant. Between now and March 23rd, area residents are asked to vote on-line for this unique opportunity.

If awarded to Princeton HealthCare System, the Livestrong© Creative Center Hospital Artist-in-Residence Program would pay for Arts Council faculty artist Eva Mantell to work one day a week for a full year in the oncology center of the new Plainsboro hospital. Ms. Mantell is a dedicated and inspiring teacher of the arts who has worked with students of all ages and abilities. As artist-in-residence, she would bring art supplies and work alongside patients, family members and medical staff in the oncology unit. The grant would also provide further training and organizational planning to sustain the residency beyond the funding period.

Since September 2011, the Arts Council of Princeton has been working in partnership with the ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) Unit of the University Medical Center of Princeton to bring an artist to work bedside with patients each week. Eva Mantell arrives each Friday with art books, paper and basic supplies and goes from room to room with Rebecca Godofsky, RN, who is NICHE Coordinator, for the unit. Sometimes family members and visitors join in, and sometimes the patient alone will work with Eva on a drawing or collage project. The art supplies are left behind, so the respite can continue beyond the Friday visit.

Please support Eva, the Arts Council, the Princeton HealthCare System, and cancer care in our region by voting, before March 23rd:







About ilenedube

Ilene Dube is a writer, artist, filmmaker and curator. Her short stories have been published in more than a dozen literary journals and anthologies, and hundreds of her art reviews, features and essays have appeared at Hyperallergic, Philadelphia Public Media, Huffington Post, Sculpture Magazine and other media. Her short documentaries on art movements of central New Jersey have been featured at the New Jersey Film Festival, Nassau Film Festival, Trenton Film Festival and elsewhere.
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