St. Mary’s gives activity center artful upgrade

St. Mary’s Hosptital for Children surprised their patients with an artistic update to the activity room in the facility.
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside unveiled an art installation in an activity room used by the patients in the facility. Dan Colen, an artist who works through the non-profit RxArt, turned the somewhat bland space into a stimulating atmosphere for the children to interact with caretakers.

The hand-painted art installation is the product of the artist imitating the way confetti falls, adorning both the wall and ceiling to create a sort of Sistine Chapel of healing.

“This piece, which depicts confetti frozen in mid-air, is about both the joy and the fragility of life, and it has found the perfect home at St Mary’s, where the children will have the opportunity to interact with it on a daily basis,” Colen said. “Throughout the planning and execution of this project, I was fortunate to work with people both in and out of the medical community and art world who were committed to seeing this through, and who, like me, believe art can play a role in healing. I feel lucky and grateful to have a work of mine in such a special environment.”

One-by-one, the children entered the newly painted activity room and stared wild-eyed at the colors that suddenly surrounded them.

“The beauty of this project, five years in the making, was finding a group of people who all were committed to finding a balance and engaging in all aspects of the project and its challenges with equal weight,” Colen said. “The artistic vision and the idea of how it could function within the hospital environment were considered daily.”

Hospital management works to invigorate the lives of their patients on a regular basis with events, which are often a welcome break from the children’s usual routine in the facility. In December, performer and board member Nick Cannon and fellow singer Gavin DeGraw gave the children a show in the lobby and handed out toys for the holidays. Cannon is no stranger to the children in the hospital, where he visits on a regular basis.

During the month of October, St. Mary’s and the Spirit of Halloween Foundation host a party in the space recently updated by RxArt.

“At St. Mary’s, we believe that the arts are essential to promoting health and well-being in children,” said Eddie Simpser, president and CEO of St. Mary’s “Children with special needs can encounter artistic expression to free their imaginations from the constraints imposed by physical limitations, thereby improving their quality of life. We are so pleased to be partnering with RxArt on this wonderful project.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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