Arts in Medicine Celebrates 25 Years

By Sara Bondell - December 07, 2023

In 1998, the Arts in Medicine program started with one staff member and one art cart.

This single art cart was the start of what has become a robust Arts in Medicine program impacting the lives of patients across Moffitt’s campuses.
This single art cart was the start of what has become a robust Arts in Medicine program impacting the lives of patients across Moffitt’s campuses.

The mission was to use art as a form of expression to promote healing and self-discovery. No imposing meaning or interpretation of the artwork. Just offering inspiration, comfort and empowerment during a challenging time.

From the hope and healing inspired by paper cranes to the moments of peace and tranquility ushered in by harpists such as Judy Ranney, the Arts in Medicine program has brought comfort to many patients over the past 25 years.
From the hope and healing inspired by paper cranes to the moments of peace and tranquility ushered in by harpists such as Judy Ranney, the Arts in Medicine program has brought comfort to many patients over the past 25 years.

Like Moffitt Cancer Center itself, the Arts in Medicine program has grown exponentially. Today, the program includes seven artists-in-residence sharing both visual art and music across three Moffitt locations. There are also two art studios for patients, family and team members to drop in and visit during the week.

“The growth over the past 25 years demonstrates Moffitt’s commitment to caring for the whole person, and not just the patient, but their family and caregivers and Moffitt team members,” Arts in Medicine Coordinator Amanda Bonanno said. “Everyone can experience and truly benefit from the power of art and music.”

To celebrate Arts in Medicine’s 25 years, let’s take a look back.

1998:

  • The Arts in Medicine program begins, initially with just one artist and an art cart meeting with patients at their bedsides.
  • The first musician-in-residence starts, launching a long tradition of bringing live music to patients and families during difficult times.
  • The first open studio is held at the Magnolia campus, providing a place for patients to gather and create.

2001:

  • The “Fabric of Life” installation, which features silk paintings made by patients, families and staff, opens in the hospital main lobby.

2002:

  • The “Labyrinth” installation opens. The labyrinth was hand-painted on a 24-foot canvas for people to walk through, serving as a meditative tool. The ancient symbol of wholeness represents the journey through life.

2006:

The Arts in Medicine studio offers a place for patients, family and staff to create art.
The Arts in Medicine studio offers a place for patients, family and staff to create art.
  • A permanent art studio opens in the Moffitt Clinic Building.
  • The Healing Arts Gallery opens on the Magnolia campus. Located on the first floor between Red Lobby and Blue Lobby, it features artwork made by patients, families and staff. Exhibits are curated and installed in collaboration with the USF Contemporary Art Museum.
  • “On Wings of Hope,” a paper crane installation, pictured above, opens in honor of Moffitt’s 20th anniversary.

2009:

  • The first annual Color of Music program begins. Visual artists-in-residence paint on easels as they are inspired by the live music played by the musicians-in-residence. Patients, families and staff are also invited to collaborate on a community art piece.
Artists paint in the Red Lobby during the 2017 Color of Music.
Artists paint in the Red Lobby during the 2017 Color of Music.

2012:

  • A temporary Arts in Medicine exhibit opens at International Plaza and Bay Street, sharing patient art with the public.

2015:

2016:

  • The art bag program begins, bringing art kits to inpatient rooms on the Magnolia campus.
A second art studio opened at the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center in 2015.
A second art studio opened at the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center in 2015.

2017:

  • The art cart starts making the rounds at the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center.

2018:

  • “Music & Art à La Carte” is created as a monthly event. Visiting a different location each time, a visual artist-in-residence and musician-in-residence pair up to make art and play music together.

2020:

  • Arts in Medicine promotes healing during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic by visiting patients virtually.
  • The Arts in Medicine program is featured at the National Organization for Arts in Health.
  • Moffitt celebrates the first International Arts in Health Month.

2021:

  • The program adds a keyboard for bedside visits at the Magnolia campus.

2022:

  • Miriam Abascal Zimms and husband Mitch Kessler donate a piano to the lobby of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center.

2023:

  • The program celebrates its 25th anniversary.

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Sara Bondell Medical Science Writer More Articles

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