The Healing Power of Art: US hospitals are putting into practice what patients have long known — fine art is good medicine

January 2021: New Mexico’s hospital administrators know what researchers have proved through science — Fine art is good medicine.

In fact, the practice of artfully decorating healing spaces dates back at least to medieval times when church-run hospitals doubled as repositories of some of the era’s most important art. Medieval hospital art often appealed to saints for healing and was intended to inspire prayer; contemporary hospital décor promotes healing.

Not only do today’s decorating practices share a good deal with historical precedents, but we also have social science to prove its benefits:

  • A paper published in 2007 in the UK demonstrated art’s “positive effects not only on patient well being but also on health outcomes such as length of stay in hospital and pain tolerance.”
  • A 2017 study from Denmark discovered that hanging paintings, especially abstract ones, correlated with patient satisfaction in a hospital waiting room.
  • And in 2018, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts announced a collaboration with an area hospital to allow doctors to prescribe museum visits to patients.

The view that art can have beneficial effects on patient recovery is generally accepted, explains Michael Mullins, co-author of a recent study on hospital art in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-being and a professor Copenhagen’s University of Aalborg. “It is documented that art can reduce the experience of pain by distracting the patient’s attention.”

Here’s how art can help patients heal:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce the need for pain medication.
  • Increase patients’ trust and confidence.
  • Be a positive distraction for patients, visitors, and staff.

Good news for New Mexico hospitals, patients, and visitors! 

Las Cruces-based painter Cynthia de Lorenzi ( has partnered with Memorial Medical Center to fills its halls with art by local painters. For the last three years, she has been collecting and curating the public space — and the response has been remarkable.

“Patients, staff, and administrators alike regularly pull me aside when I’m at the hospital to tell me how much the art means to them,” Cynthia shares. “Especially now, in the era of COVID-19, I believe having something beautiful and joyful to look at lifts people’s spirits. It certainly does that for me!

Cynthia is now reaching out to artists and hospitals throughout New Mexico to bring art to more facilities.

Get involved: To set up a time to talk with Cynthia de Lorenzi, contact Hope Katz Gibbs, Inkandescent Public Relations, at or 703 346-6975. Scroll down for details about how to apply!

CALL TO NEW MEXICO ARTISTS: Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces seeks to expand its art collection and showcase New Mexico artists by adding new works of art to its Administration Annex Building, main hospital center, and related medical facilities. Here’s who qualifies and how you can apply:

  1. Eligible: Resident Artists of New Mexico
  2. Beginning: January 2021
  3. Artwork Mediums: Oil, Watercolor, Acrylic, Dyes, Collages, Ceramic, Mixed-Media, Photography, Sculpture, Murals, Mobiles, Pottery, Weaving, Quilting, Stain Glass, Collage, and various other mediums. For indoor and out, all will be considered.
  4. Styles: Realism, Impressionism, Contemporary, Abstract art
  5. Themes: Open theme, but art that is appropriate for the walls of a hospital. These include Scenes, people, animals; contemplative, colorful, positive, uplifting, warm, friendly, comforting, humorous.
  6. Size: Minimum 16×20 frame / No Maximum (many of the areas accommodate very large pieces). Art may be moved to various locations from time to time.
  7. Art Prep: All art should be presented professionally, ready-to-hang, picture wire attached to the frame with D-rings installed exactly 3 inches from the top of the artwork. Note: All pieces will be hung with an anti-theft hanging system by MMC. Consider UV plexiglass for watercolors and spraying paintings for sun protection. This would be the artist’s decision.
  8. Process for Exhibiting: Submit 3-4 jpg of completed works to be considered.

Required: Information for each piece

  • Title
  • Medium
  • Size of artwork, with frame
  • Price
  • Artist’s name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Address
  • One-time first entry information: Brief biography and photo (jpg)

Submit your entry via email to: Janice Jones, Hospital Administration: and

When your work is selected, you will be notified about which of their original works to bring in at a convenient time and date to the Administration Building on the Memorial Medical Center campus on Telshor Dr. in Las Cruces.

When you deliver your art: You will be asked to sign a liability waiver, dismissing Memorial Medical Center of any liability for the art on their premises and accepting that there will be no Medical Center commission on art sold; however, sales are direct through the artist, and a donation from art sold would be appreciated to the Memorial Medical Center (Arts Fund) for future art purchases.

NOTE: The Medical Center is creating an electronic artist file of work for the selection committee to choose art for specific areas in the Memorial Medical Center Complex. If you have nothing you would like to submit at this time, you can send jpegs of your art at any time by following the above procedure. Remember: This project is on-going. We look forward to receiving your replies and learning of your interest in this exciting project!

Share the love: Please feel free to pass along this call for entries to all of your New Mexico artist friends! Thank you — Cynthia de Lorenzi,