Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos

Summer 2020 was unique in many ways – we were still all collectively quarantined due to COVID-19; I was navigating continuing health concerns and chronic pain leading to an additional surgery; I was learning to work full-time in a virtual atmosphere; and in the midst of all this change, I decided to take a summer course for the first time ever in my decades-long educational journey.

The course I signed up for, Experiments in Content: Design for Educators, was being taught by Laura Scherling, an individual I met through my coursework at Columbia University, and someone I heard speak at a conference and immediately felt inspired by. Hence, I signed up for her course, even amid all the other crazy. The course goals were to offer an examination of new technologies, materials, concepts, attitudes, both in their current forms as well as future applications. Participants were encouraged to investigate a personal topic through field experience, hands-on demonstration, observation, readings, and lectures. I took the “investigate a personal topic” to heart, and my project dug deep into my recent hospital emergency room experience.

My time in the emergency room taught me many things: don’t sweat the small stuff, tell special people in your life how much you love them over and over and over, learning to walk is hard, and a colorful piece of art can make all the difference when your current world-view is white, sterile, and bleak.

Walk Through My Story

Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos

After a prolonged, unexpected illness; consequential 36 day hospitalization and 14 day live-in rehabilitation; the author, her lived experience being a catalyst, felt compelled to further research, explore, discover, evaluate, and encourage the necessity for visual arts within hospital environments, especially for long-term care emergency patients.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos

Half-way through my hospital stay, and in the midst of being weaned off of the plethora of narcotics I was given to assist with pain management, my older sister visited me. This was not the first time she visited, but this visit was unique in that she brought along a painting created by my 5 year old nephew. She told me he had searched his art collection and found me his “very best.” Since he wasn’t able to visit me personally, he was sending his art instead. 
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
From that moment on, even when 100% alone and stuck in my physically immobile, full-body atrophied state, I was able to travel through my imagination using my nephew’s art. And, even now, months later, I still travel through his precious gift, a gift which has been given a prominent space in my home. Take a trip through my imagination, see what I saw, experience a glimmer of what I felt, and perhaps, even allow your own imagination to tell a story.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
Rotating art presented within a long-term medical intensive care unit setting has the achievable conclusion of reinforcing the humanity of patients, increasing and positively impacting patient imagination, improving the atmosphere of the space for both patient and caregiving staff, and, therefore, improving the patient’s overarching sense of well-being and potential for healing and recovery.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos

It is human nature to be curious, therefore, I have attached a medical summary of my experience on the adjoining page so you can satisfy your curiosity while also understanding my journey, for I am faceless, nameless patient 634. 
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos

Now, let me assure you, I am passionately committed and wholeheartedly invested in this proposal because I have experienced the positive effect of art – albeit through a happy accident rather than my proposed strategic implementation.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
Let’s explore connection. The initial double orange dot, the dot that is directly connected to each following dot, represents the patient. The patient then connects to over 100 other individuals including doctors, nurses, support staff, therapists, students, family, and more.  If you instead consider that this beginning mark does not represent the patient but rather the presented art, you can then understand impact – the impact one piece of art may have during a time of great need.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
Art, and its beneficial influences, does not have to remain unreachable for most.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
Introducing art into emergency room settings does not need to be prohibitively expensive or laborious.
Experiments in Content: Design for Educators - Visual Arts Integration. proposal drafted by Carolann C. DeMatos
This profit-neutral, research-supported program will not be an added expense for the patient, for the patient’s family, or for the medical establishment. Through grants, donations, and other funding options, this potentially life improving medium can be introduced into hospitals nationwide.  

This idea is still in its infancy, there is still hours and weeks and years of research to do, many conversations to have, heaps of technology to explore, and overwhelming amounts of feedback to listen to. But, if your interest is peaked: learn more, get involved, donate your art, or share your story: [email protected].