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Leadership Academy group creates new art gallery at OSH

Friday, September 08, 2017

Story by Jeffrey Tegner, a treatment care plan specialist on the Salem campus. Tegner took part in a work group to create a dedicated space for patient art on the third floor of the Kirkbride building.

Last September, I was fortunate enough to join a small workgroup that took part in the 2016-2017 DHS/OHA Leadership Academy. Out of 11 projects, my group and I chose one that allowed us to produce something truly meaningful for both staff and patients at Oregon State Hospital (OSH). We helped create a dedicated space to display patient art, celebrate art therapy as a clinical discipline, and honor a gifted clinician.
Our work group was made up of two Oregon Health Authority (OHA) employees and OSH employees Luzviminda “Luz” Barela-Borst, spiritual care director; Tim Hanson, lead collaborative problem solving coach; and myself. We connected with stakeholders on every level to make the gallery a special place to honor patient art.
Every department in the hospital contributed in some fashion to make the vision a reality. Special thanks to Brian Chapman of Vocational Services, who constructed the frames on a very short timeline. Even community businesses donated their labor to the project.
The Art Therapy Department worked with patients to make art with creative renderings of birds, flowers, trees and other objects found in nature. Art Therapist Jamie Waters provided colored canvases and stencils, so patients could create 17 pieces to light up the hallway near the Education and Development Department (EDD).
After months of work and coordination, the art gallery opened April 19 on the third floor of the Kirkbride building. I joined my Leadership Academy workgroup to present our project during a brief ceremony that featured John Swanson, interim administrator; Linda Morgan, director of creative arts therapy; and Jamie Waters. The culmination of nine months of work was complete.
A sentimental highlight of the exhibit is Sara Slack’s painter’s jacket. Sara was an art therapist at OSH from 2006-2014, before she passed away from cancer. She had a unique connection and approach to working with patients and is remembered by the colorful jacket she encouraged patients to decorate. The jacket hangs on the wall, surrounded by patient art, to honor her contribution to promote hope, safety and recovery at the hospital. It is the one piece of art that will remain constant in the OSH Patient Art Gallery.
Hospital staff will rotate new patient art into the frames at least twice a year. The Art Therapy Department will provide patients with the materials and a general theme to guide their efforts. From there, patients are free to express themselves. The exhibit is the first step toward a larger vision of showcasing patient art in dedicated spaces throughout the Salem and Junction City campuses.
My group and I were supported by our project champion, Rebeka Gipson-King, who guided the larger vision and provided the necessary resources to reach the finish line. During every phase of planning and action, our team constantly connected with project stakeholders throughout the hospital.
For me, personally, establishing this gallery was a powerful experience. This was a complete OSH team effort, and without the vision, planning and follow through of multiple people at just the right time, none of this would have come together as beautifully as it did.
Through the project, I connected with a diverse group of individuals and learned about their skills and passions. Together, we helped establish a beautiful space for the world to view patient art. This exhibit celebrates the role of art therapy at Oregon State Hospital, it honors a former art therapist who was committed to patients, and it promotes hope, safety and recovery. I am humbled by the work we all did and the people who helped make it a reality.

A nature theme connects the patient artwork now on display on the third floor of the Kirkbride building.

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