The art of giving back
Denver-based photographic artist Rhonda Grimberg has always had a fondness for the healing qualities of art in healthcare. “My Signature Collections of still life and floral imagery have a soothing quality while having visual strength,” says Grimberg. “These are the collections that art consultants and interior designers repeatedly place in hospitals and clinics across the United States. I am passionate about getting my art placed in healing environments.”
Grimberg belongs to an organization called The Society for Arts in Healthcare (SAH). “I am touched by the unselfish work of the artists, clinicians and administrators who provide ‘the arts’ to the healing environment,” she says. The Society advocates for and assists with the integration of the arts into healthcare facilities and the healing process. With SAH's encouragement and support, it is increasingly common for patients, families, and caregivers to enjoy visual art, music, poetry, and uplifting performances during their hospital stay. Grimberg joined the group in 2005 and has felt a special bond since then: “SAH reinforced what I knew from my core: Having my art placed in hospitals is so rewarding. I believe that art in healthcare environments can make a difference in the moments of people's lives. In healthcare facilities art can be a distraction at a tough period of time, it can provide a stimulus for memory, and it can add to the ambiance of new life. Hopefully my strong yet delicate art can jump off the wall to share the message that things can get better, that this too shall pass.”
Having had family members, friends, and clients who have undergone chemotherapy in their fights against cancer, Grimberg decided to use her art as a positive healing force by providing individually packaged notecards and envelopes to infusion centers. The concept is to make the notecards available to patients as they spend time getting their chemotherapy. “I had printed notecards to use in my marketing in lieu of postcards, giving potential art clients something that could be used rather than just tossed into the landfill. I started giving some of them as boxed sets for gifts, and repeatedly heard that many of the receivers found themselves writing thank you's and short notes just because they now had cards. It had prompted them back to the fine art of gracious note-writing in a world filled with e-mails. I too found myself writing more notecards,” says Grimberg. Grimberg will be funding this project based on 3% of her annual art sales and all proceeds from the sale of the notecards themselves. The currently available notecards are “Silly Girls,” “Tulip Twist,” and “Silken Soiree.” “They all have bright white backgrounds, and cheery, spring-like flowers and colors. They represent joy, hope, and looking forward. They are happy images, and I hope this kind gesture will be something to brighten patients' days and serve a purpose,” Grimberg explains. Notecards sell for $15.00 per boxed set of 10 notecards and envelopes.
The first infusion center to receive notecards was Exempla Lutheran Hospital Infusion Center in Wheatridge, Colorado. “The feedback has been positive, the imagery is being received with enthusiasm, and the notecards are being appreciated by the patients that choose to use them,” says Grimberg. “A fellow SAH member told me that from her personal experience that being diagnosed with cancer catapults you into a realm of thoughtfulness about life. She said that she was forced into a schedule that gets away from the rat race, a place where life needs to be lived at a slower, more reflective pace. Notecard writing fits in with this pace.” Through the SAH, Grimberg has been able to team up with other centers around the country where SAH members will help her coordinate the project. There are 10 targeted participants, with locations in Oregon, New Orleans, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Colorado.
While Grimberg wants to keep the project small for the time being, that may change down the road. “For now, it's small and manageable,” Grimberg says. “Working with a small number of centers provides the opportunity to get feedback, to revisit the results, and to determine where it could go from here. First and foremost, I need to continue to create and market my Limited Edition Art which in turn will allow me to build the project. Down the road, once we see where it needs to go, the sky is the limit. What I do know is that I do not have intentions to be a card company—I make the cards of the art to fill my need to give back through healthcare, and to make someone smile.”
With no aims at becoming the next Hallmark, Grimberg keeps her goals modest: “All I hope is that to some of the patients, the notecards provide a ray of sunshine, possibly a feeling of kindness bestowed upon them from a stranger, a chance to write that notecard that they may forget to pick up or be too tired to get to the store to buy, or a small piece of art to take home and put on the refrigerator. The notecards are for the patients. I will continue to replenish as funds are available to print more.” HD