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Representation of Nature in Healing Art.

Oregonian landscape in a Green House.

In November 2018, Jess and I enjoyed creating this mural in the Green House of a Health Care center for Alzheimer's and dementia residents in Tigard, OR. We choose a subject that can have a beneficial impact on the residents; a landscape that can bring them positive memories, emotions, sensations, and conversations. But why choosing a representation of nature instead of panoramic of the city of Portland?

Why does nature art have such a positive impact on patients or residents?

Throughout my research, I found studies that confirm my experiences and thoughts about implementing nature art in Healthcare facilities. These studies have shown that art has a significant role in healthcare environment by implementing a positive distraction for patients, visitors, and staff under a high stress level.

But why Nature?

Ulrich and Gilpin studies (2003) suggested that the benefit of nature images lies in the two basic theories: evolutionary theory and emotional positive impact.

Humankind has always been an intrinsic part of natural world, since prehistoric time we have been developed our abilities to survive in nature. In parallel, we have developed an affinity for the natural world that has sustained us.

Nature Art is perceived as calming and restorative on evolutionary level but also on intellectual and emotional one. There are unconscious and conscious components into our interaction with nature art. We might not have conscious that about our calming response to nature art can be connected to natural images that represented shelter and protection to our ancestor. But, while we are watching nature art, we can express consciously our feelings generate from it.

There are different schools that studied the influence of nature art to human well-being and different opinions have merged from it. Wanting study the impact of Art on patients is not an easy task because it involves many factors at many different levels of consciousness. Art includes a big part of subjectivity and can create a lot of different reaction from people.

I think one of the most important criteria to implement nature art in healthcare facilities is to take in consideration which art content will be the most appropriate to the needs of special patient populations. We won't use the same images for pediatrics that for palliative care.

However, I think there is a significant reason why nature has mostly a positive impact on healing environment and ancient civilization knew how to value and use elements of nature to enhance our surrounding space. We are dependent of nature, and instead going against it, why not using the experience of nature to create healing environment.

We are all composed of the same elements of nature; water, air, fire (hit) and earth (bones).This aspect makes us closer to nature that we think. Ancient traditions have used for long time nature and wildlife elements to create harmonious space.

Feng Shui and healing art.

One of the tradition that has attracted the most my intention is Feng Shui. This ancestral technique is an ancient art and science that was formalized over 3,000 years ago in China. In literal translation feng means "wind" and shui means "water", two natural elements essential to our survival.

Feng Shui focuses on spacial arrangement to harmonize a space (home, work place, rest area) in order to enhance the quality of the environment. This system believes that our surrounding environment can have an impact to our health and well-being. They are also using art, and more specifically nature art that represents four natural elements as air, water, fire, and earth, as well as animals representation to stimulate some part of our environment that will re-balance some needs of specific environment and populations.

I found that the art content choose in healthcare setting are similar how Chinese culture used some Images in Feng Shui. I will go though it in details in my next posts.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie Piedra-Mansuet,


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