Paintfest Brings Healing and Creativity to Children at Doernbecher

06/18/02    Portland, Ore.

An international art program comes to Oregon for the first time

The halls and ceilings will become a canvas for patients at Doernbecher Children's Hospital as they take part in Operation PaintFest, an international program coming to Oregon for the first time. The event helps children forget their medical worries for a moment and allows them to step outside the hospital walls by "bringing the outside, inside" as they paint colorful pictures of jungle and aquatic life on plain hospital walls.

Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher is one of 15 children's hospitals around the country chosen by Pfizer Pediatric Health, a division of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, to host Operation PaintFest this year. "Doernbecher's history and understanding of the fact that art can help patients heal and that art can love and give comfort, encouraged Pfizer to select the hospital," said John Feight, executive director for the Foundation for Hospital Art. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and donating artwork to hospitals for patients to paint.

"Patients have been at the heart of our mission from the beginning. They have inspired us and encouraged us. Patients have written poems and letters explaining how the soft colors of hope have given them comfort. They have told me how important art can be to the healing process," Feight said.

Jan Crider, child life specialist at Doernbecher, specializes in art therapy and thinks the event will be beneficial for both the patients and the employees. "It's always good to encourage staff and patients to come together in a playful manner, instead of just for medical purposes. The communication is on a different level at that point; it equalizes kids and adults," said Crider.

Doernbecher patients unable to leave their rooms will have the opportunity to paint ceiling tiles in their rooms, which will be incorporated into ceiling pictures for all visitors to enjoy. In addition to ceiling tiles, patients will also paint murals on hallway walls. The completed artwork will permanently brighten hallways, exam rooms and ceilings in Doernbecher.

The Foundation for Hospital Art, based in Roswell, Ga., has inspired more than 100,000 volunteers and patients to create paintings for as many as 500 hospitals in 165 countries.