The Role of Art in Medicine


(Photo above: Flight Over the Palouse on display at the Arts in Care Gallery at Partners In Care through March. Collage/Acrylic on Board by Marlene Alexander)

“When the arts are incorporated with traditional medicine, it is a powerful tool,” according to Marlene Alexander, a local artist who holds a graduate certificate in Arts in Medicine from the University of Florida. “Art and music crack the sterile space of fear experienced by both patients and caregivers, making space for joy to enter the human spirit. The spirit freed then helps the body heal. In a real sense, what illness strips away from a person, art has the power to replace.”
The Arts in Care program at Partners In Care was founded by Alexander in 2011 for the purpose of bringing the arts to a workplace that serves patients receiving hospice and home health care. Through a variety of methods, Alexander has created an environment conducive to healing one’s mind, body and spirit.
Alexander was formerly the Arts Coordinator for St. Charles Medical Center and founded their Arts in the Hospital program in 1990 to create a healing environment throughout the hospital. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, and has served on a national healing arts board for eight years. She has been a Bend resident since 1971 where she has been a practicing artist and conducts art classes for children.
One of her most notable accomplishments was to create the Arts in Care Gallery at Partners In Care. The large gallery space is open to the public and features rotating exhibits by regional artists. A dozen or more works of art can be displayed at any given time. Four large display cases contain dimensional objects such as sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, literary works and more. Art spills out into other areas of the administrative offices as well as throughout the Hospice House inpatient facility where it can inspire, educate and connect people.
“Exhibits are carefully curated with the mission of the gallery in mind,” said Alexander. “We explore the therapeutic connection between human creativity and the healing arts.”
Thirty percent of all art sales benefit the Arts in Care program. The next exhibit at the Arts in Care Gallery at Partners In Care opens February 23 with a public reception for the featured artists who are all members of the Tumalo Art Co.
Marlene Alexander coordinates the Arts in Care Gallery at Partners In Care, a hospice and home health care provider headquartered in Bend


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