Arts in Health Exhibit


Curated by Creative Arts Guild Executive Director, Amanda Brown, February’s Gallery FIVE20 Arts in Health exhibit educates our community about the growing importance of creativity in the field of healthcare, highlights how arts in health experiences elevate compassionate care and patient experience, celebrates the launch of the Howalt Arts and Wellness Program at Hamilton Medical Center administered by the Creative Arts Guild, and advocates for the continued support and growth of Arts in Health at Hamilton and in our community. 

As the daughter of a doctor and an occupational therapist who both valued the arts, from a young age, Amanda Brown always naturally understood and appreciated the connection and intersection of arts and health. It has been a lifetime personal interest and when Brown first returned to Dalton in 2014 to step into the role as the Guild’s Executive Director, she had visions of the Creative Arts Guild pursuing this approach to arts engagement and by doing so, supporting Dalton’s health care and wellbeing. 

Jane Snipes was one of the board members who interviewed and hired Brown for her position as Executive Director, and served on the Board of Directors during Amanda’s first year before resigning to fulfill her new duties as the Executive Director of Whitfield Healthcare Foundation. With a calling to support our community’s healthcare needs and a lifelong passion and appreciation for the arts, Jane shared the vision of integrating the arts into healthcare, and through the generosity and commitment of Cindy and Chip Howalt, that vision was realized, and the Howalt Arts in Wellness Program was founded. 

“Incorporating the arts into the patient care setting allows us to improve and enhance the patient experience. From the installation of original art in public and private spaces at Hamilton to engaging patients with visual art, music, movement and journaling experiences, our goal is to create a healing atmosphere. Healthcare visits bring about a range of emotions as patients and families cope with challenging diagnoses and treatment. The arts become a refuge from the intense emotions associated with illness and disease. We are forever grateful to Cindy and Chip, and their family, for embracing a shared vision and taking a chance with us on this collaboration between the arts and healthcare. They understand the impact of creating exceptional programs which support patient needs, advance healthcare and the arts, and in turn, elevate our region as a source for destination healthcare. How incredible that they are supporting this program at a high level so that we can grow and sustain it into the future. Once again, we see people in this community are committed to excellence and to each other as we design our future together. “

In February of 2020 before programming began, a site visit to observe UF Health - University of Florida Shands Arts in Medicine program in Gainesville, Florida, offered an experiential model of a working Arts in Health program and solidified goals for formalizing an Arts in Health program at Hamilton. Brown and Snipes along with Terri Woodruff, Executive Director of Anna Shaw Children’s Institute, and Rita Harris of Peeples Cancer Institute, left the 3-day immersive experience excited about all of the possibilities ahead and began planning for an arts program at Hamilton.  

As the Creative Arts Guild was charged with delivering the hands-on arts experiences at Hamilton, Brown felt it was her responsibility to ensure that the Guild was prepared to follow best practices and provide a top-notch program. This led her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Arts in Medicine from University of Florida. With her graduation approaching in May, Brown confirms that her experience at the University of Florida’s Arts in Medicine Program has opened her eyes to the vast world of arts in healthcare, offered information that will support an optimal program for Hamilton Health Care System, and has fostered invaluable networks and relationships that will support relevant programming in Dalton for years to come.  

Brown: “Arts in Health is an innovative healthcare field that exemplifies compassionate care and elevates the patient experience. We are so very lucky that Hamilton continues to be an industry leader and is once again leaping forward with another approach to improve healthcare experiences in Dalton. It is a true honor for the Creative Arts Guild to partner with Hamilton and use our mission of the arts to support their mission of community health! I remain appreciative for the partnership and for the generous gift of Chip and Cindy Howalt to support this connection of the arts and health in our community.” 

Over the last 2 years, Brown has provided arts experiences at Anna Shaw Children’s Institute and Peeples Cancer Institute – using these two facilities for pilot programs. The results have been rewarding for all involved. Terri Woodruff, Executive Director of Anna Shaw Children’s Institute, agrees. “The Arts in Health program has been a positive addition to the services at ASCI. Participating in creating art impacts memory, mood and motor skills.  These arts activities have positively impacted children and their siblings!  They are smiling with pride to display their creations.”

This exhibition will take the viewer on a journey into arts in health in which, Brown shares her experience as an Arts in Health practitioner, as a parent and family caregiver to her son who requires frequent medical care, and as a participant – as she shares how she uses the arts and a creative practice to improve her own health and wellbeing. The exhibit continues with highlights from the different areas of the Creative Arts Guild and Whitfield Healthcare Foundation partnership including the environmental arts in health procurement and curation at Anna Shaw Children’s Institute, Peeples Cancer Institute, and Bandy Endoscopy Center, the early phases of the patient arts in health programming supported by the Howalt Arts and Wellness Program and how arts in health can continue to support public health initiatives in this community.

The exhibit opens with a public reception on Friday, February 3 from 5:30-7:30pm at 520 W. Waugh Street and will remain on display at the Creative Arts Guild through February 24. For more information about the exhibit and the Arts and Wellness program at Hamilton Medical Center, contact Amanda Brown – or 706.259.1974.