Would you mount your artwork on the ceiling? Would you dance away your terrors of the night rains? Would you sing your grocery list? Would you make a mural from thumbprints?

There are people who do and have done that. As they say on TV -- These are their stories.

Most often landscapes and garden scenes are known to be soothing and calming. That's why doctors hang them in their waiting rooms, offices and hallways. Then there are the docs who hang artwork above the patient's bed. In recovery it creates a tranquil scene to look at as soon as the patient wakes up. Now that's creativity and a medical staff really being in tune with patient needs.

Can you imagine being terrified of the rain at night? At a conference of arts administrators in 1992, children brought the entire audiences of about 2,000 to tears as the children danced, their way of expressing their terror and diminishing its power, as they recounted how the night rain and wind of Hurricane Andrew had destroyed their neighborhoods, where some had lost their homes and others had lost family members. All of us arts administrators knew the power of the arts, but none of us could really understand the emotional trigger that rain at night had on these children. Until they danced for us. And we wept as their dance made us understand. And none of us in that audience can ever forget that moment and how an arts program had helped all these children deal with their fears and come to sleep soundly at night, once again, unafraid of the night rains.

There is a weird synapse in the brain that sometimes allows stroke victims to sing their thoughts, even if they cannot speak. It's a strange thing to witness, a singing conversation, but it allows the patient a way to escape the stroke situation and allows the friends and family a way to reunite with their loved one, albeit in a nonconventional way.

"Ray of Hope" is a mural over 5,000 feet in width and it hangs on the outside of a medical college in Karakonam, India. It is a fingerprint painting, made up of 15 panels made from fingerprint impressions that thousands of Indian doctors and medical students created for the mural. Astonishingly, it took only four months to be created and it is an idea of Dr. Naveen Koval to be a "symbolic representation of our fight to end the violence against doctors." The idea that 75 percent of doctors in India face some kind of violence in their careers is astonishing to Americans. The artwork makes a powerful statement, how it was created with so many participants in such a short time makes a profound statement.

Most of us enjoy the relaxation of music or the beauty of visual artwork and the thoughtfulness of architecture. But the ability of the arts to go beyond to help heal and instruct and, most importantly, the benefits of the very process of creating, are paramount. Dr. Koval could have imagined a mural but where the mural gets its power is that so many doctors and students participated in creating it. That's where it gets its power, both for the viewer and for creators.

We enjoy the final product but the real and lasting value of the arts is in the process, what it takes to get it done, who participates, how it resonates with the audience and the stories is ingrates in our consciousness. That's what helps us communicate, heal, and sleep safely at night.

Davina Grace Hill is Executive Director of the Cultural Arts Council Douglasville/Douglas County. She can be reached at directorartsdouglas@earthlink.net.

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