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Thin twisted configurations are reflected on the surrounding white walls. They are the shadows of the mass of wires stemming from the cold machinery that creates the soundtrack for everyone who comes into the room. This is often the setting and environment many walk into when they visit family, friends, and neighbors in hospitals and nursing homes.

In 1997, Arlene Sullivan decided to change that image and teamed up Mary Ann Martello and Georgann Novak to create the Changing Images Art Foundation, Inc. –  a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization— that would provide what the founders call “Medicine for the Soul”. With Sullivan’s influence, they realized that a major part of the healing and learning process was missing in these drab and bleak settings: color.

As an art teacher, Sullivan recognizes how color and well placed artwork can be just as important to the healing process in hospitals and nursing homes as medicine. She became acutely aware of this when she spent two months in the intensive care unit with her two week old son. While the medical staff around her was amazing and caring, the bleak walls and scary machines surrounding her son, whose beep her own breathing began to mimic, made for a less than comforting environment.

The Changing Images Art Foundation works to promote Sullivan’s vision by creating works of art that will be shared in various institutional settings. Volunteers come together to add their personal brushstroke to the created mural design that shares images of flower gardens, zoos, and exotic animals many of residents and patients have not seen in years. These pieces of artwork offer a warm and welcoming scene that provide fresh air and bring the outside indoors for those who have not gotten a chance to feel it for months or years. The work of these volunteers has spread across the country and the globe to share the power art has to help promote “Medicine for the Soul.”

From the pre-drawn butterfly kits to the canvases sets  and murals designs, the artwork completed by over 4,000 volunteers to date has allowed The Changing Images Art Foundation to spread color and comfort to many who pass through, live, and work in institutional environments. Click here to see how you can help them continue the journey with The Changing Images Art Foundation.

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