"Epiphany" by  Joe Novak
"Epiphany" by former Santa Fe resident Joe Novak is displayed in a hallway at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center.

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center wants to promote more New Mexican artists and their art. 

Since the hospital opened its doors in 2014, administrators have been working to fill the building’s hallways, walls and lobbies with local art donations, said Jamie Silva-Steele, SRMC president and CEO. 

“Art can be very healing, creating a state of health and wellness for our patients," she said. "We feel strongly about the need to partner with our community artists to showcase their work at our medical center.” 

Modern hospitals can be stressful places for patients, families and hospital staff. Research shows that pausing to look at art can have positive ramifications throughout the day according to Chris Fenton, director of the UNM Health Sciences Center Art Collection.

Across the country, art and art–in–medicine programs have been shown to reduce stress for patients and burnout in staff, she said, adding that patients can sit for a few minutes and study sculptures and paintings in between doctor visits and tests.

“With our art and art-in-medicine programs, we believe we have an opportunity to contribute to a positive health care experience," Fenton said. "Our goal is to create an atmosphere of healing, and whenever possible, to do that with a local slant."

Hospital leaders have also formed a community group, the SRMC Arts Council, to work with the local communities to review donations before acceptance, said Fenton.

“We are always aware that we are hospital and not a private art gallery. People don’t have a choice when walking past art in a medical center hallway. We need our art to be appropriate for audiences ranging from toddlers to adults, so we wouldn’t be able to show nudity or violent subjects.  And, we want to be especially sensitive to cultural aspects since the diverse communities we serve are one of our greatest strengths,” she said.  

The Arts Council also is helping to develop an in-hospital gallery with shows focusing on emerging local artists, said Fenton.

The Arts Council reviews donation applications on a quarterly basis. All selected works become the property of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Art Collection. A donation application form is available on line at http://www.unmsrmc.org/sites/default/files/srmc_application_form.pdf.

“From the beginning, our communities have been very supportive of this medical center.  We are lucky that New Mexico has such diverse populations and unique forms of art. We want our patients and their families to feel at home from the moment they walk through the front door,” said Fenton.