Music and art create comforting space at UW Hospital and Clinics

This is the first piece in a series of three exploring the healing role of art in local hospitals. Read part two here and part three here.

Sarah GrimesSarah GrimesEvery Friday Taylor Jaraczewski, a biomedical engineering student, sits down at the piano and lets his music resonate in the UW Hospital. He is one of a corps of volunteer musicians who come to the hospital regularly to play live music.

“The hospital is a very stressful place,” said Jaraczewski, “music is completely different than anything [that] usually goes on in the hospital.”

Jaraczewski enjoys positive feedback from his listeners, about 20 percent of whom stop by while he plays.

Sarah Grimes , art coordinator for UW Health, strives to make the hospital and clinics more personal, homelike, and comforting.

“Music tends to relax people,” she said.

Grimes runs several art programs to enhance the clinical environment. Besides organizing live music, Grimes also hangs diverse art pieces around the space in galleries, the reception area, patients’ wards, examination rooms, and conference rooms.

She buys some artwork and receives donations from local artists. Grimes has also commissioned pieces of art. Working with artists to figure out what to do in the hospital is her favorite part of her job.

Art featuring nature and landscape are the most popular. And art pieces can even become important landmarks for patients. Some patients walk to a favorite piece of art as their first steps after surgery. 

Art offers, Grimes said, “something else you can discuss and think about besides the fact you are in a hospital.”

 Watch the video below for a look at the music and art in the hospital.