University Medical Center launches Wellness Walls for Art program

Something old can become something new.

More than two decades ago, artists affiliated with The University Women’s Club at UA began volunteering their time to keep the walls of the former Capstone Medical Center’s patient waiting areas filled with bright and vibrant paintings.

Today, this activity has a name, Wellness Walls for Art, and a coordinator, Tuscaloosa artist Deborah Hughes. Hughes says she is committed to keeping the walls of University Medical Center, which replaced Capstone Medical Center in 2004, filled with art work.

“I am excited that the Wellness Walls for Art program presents an opportunity to identify a rich array of art, bring it into focus and spotlight it in a public and accessible space,” she says.

University Medical Center is located on the UA campus and provides comprehensive patient-centered care to the UA community and West Alabama community in the areas of: primary care, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics; psychiatry and behavioral medicine; women’s health, including obstetrics and gynecology; and sports medicine. On-site laboratory and x-ray services, nutrition counseling and mental health counseling for individuals and families are also provided.

Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, which operates University Medical Center, says the art displays not only enhance the environment for patients but also for the College’s employees. He says art can play an important role in medicine and healing.

“In addition to helping patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, art used as therapy has successfully helped people with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, high blood pressure and other health conditions,” he says.

As part of Wellness Walls for Art, a new collection will be displayed every three months. A painting show currently on exhibit at University Medical Center features the work of Hughes and members of The Tuscaloosa and University Painters group – Karen Jacobs, Lorrie Lane, Pam Copeland, Emily Mitchell, Diana Franco and Ann Stickney.

In May, a new show will spotlight the theme “The Many Faces of Art in Adult Continuing Education” and will feature the work of residents of UA’s Capstone Village retirement community, UA’s OLLI program (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and Shelton State Community College’s Lifelong Learning Program.

A reception to officially recognize the Wellness Walls for Art program, which includes a viewing of the May show, will be held May 7 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at University Medical Center. The reception is open to the public.

The Tuscaloosa and University Painters group formed about 20 years ago and included individuals from the University and the Tuscaloosa community who met once a week to paint together and to hang their artwork at the former Capstone Medical Center and University Medical Center. In 2012, TAUP members decided the group would have to discontinue the hangings due to a lack of volunteers. Hughes offered to continue coordinating and hanging exhibits.