art is medicine

The Art is Good Medicine program provides help to cancer patients and survivors through various art activities.

Visual artists at Emerge Gallery & Art Center work with cancer patients and survivors at Emerge, ECU Health Medical Center and McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge as part of their Art is Good Medicine program to provide a holistic approach to healing and overall well-being.

Paula Rountree, programs director for Emerge, said artists visit the ECU Health Medical Center and the McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge once a week to provide free art activities to patients. She said activities include painting, drawing, mixed media, textiles and other portable activities.

Rountree said the people at Emerge simply walk door-to-door at the health center and the hope lodge and ask patients if they would like to participate. She said Emerge hosts free workshops once a month and Emerge is open to anyone who has been affected by cancer, including caregivers, current patients, survivors and family members.

“We’re (Emerge) always looking to help fulfill a need in the community and one of those needs is providing holistic care to those who are going through a hard time,” Rountree said.

Heather Mae Suter, education coordinator for Emerge, said create, heal, grow is part of their Art is Good Medicine program, which has been in place since 2007. She said professional visual artists work with adult and pediatric cancer patients and survivors. She said Emerge also has a pool of volunteers to reach out to for certain events.

Suter said the program is an arts in healthcare program in partnership with local healthcare providers. She said the program is important because it allows patients some time away from their personal problems and gives them something fun and simple to occupy their mind for some time.

“This program is so important because these patients need a mental break from their daily stressors. Whether it be a physical, mental or emotional break, we give them an opportunity to think about something else for a while, and to hang out with a kind art instructor making handmade art,” Suter said.

By bringing artistic aspects into the lives of these individuals, this program helps to provide a holistic approach for coping by engaging their mind, body and health for overall well-being, Suter said. Emerge, home of the Pitt County Arts Council, offers free adult workshops to anyone looking for a place to create, heal, and grow through artistic expression, she said.

Senior film major Andy Michael said he lost his aunt to cancer in 2010. He did not live in Greenville at the time, he said, and he wishes an organization in his hometown had a program to help patients and patients' family members participate in activities promote having a positive outlook in scary situations.

“I really am a firm believer in things like. Of course, medical procedures and doctors and nurses are definitely the first route, but why not try something to improve your mind too? I think your mind and your mindset has a big effect on your health too, especially when, healthwise, things are looking scary,” Michael said.

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