Healing With Art

Friday, May 25, 2012 - 9:36am

World-renowned cancer institute installs fine art for patients to enjoy.

Going through cancer treatments can be an exhausting and arduous process.

Blood is drawn in the morning, then hours of chemotherapy or radiation in the afternoon.

It's a lot of time to dwell on the disease that put patients there in the first place.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is working to make the experience more pleasant with the installation of hundreds of pieces of fine art.

They aren't your typical doctor's office pastel prints.

The entire cancer institute is filled with more than 500 works of museum-quality fine art, all for the patients.

"It offers moments of inspiration, moments of reflection," says Dana-Farber's Jane Mayer.

Featured are everything from bronze sculptures to one of Andy Warhol's "Souper Dresses" -- wearable pop art from 1967.

It gives patients the opportunity to think about something other than being sick.

"I still remember my sister in law at the time coming home with a paper dress," says throat cancer patient Tony Simotes. "To see it framed like that, it allowed me to have moments of actual fancy."

The art is chosen carefully.

There isn't much food imagery, which could remind patients of the nauseating side effects of chemo.

Human forms are also largely absent.

"Cancer patients don't want to look at art that has a lot of imagery that reminds them of their own bodies, because their own bodies are under treatment and often under assault," Mayer explains.

The art offers hope, an invitation to consider a future after illness.

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