​​​​The artwork resembles optical illusion
​OCAD student Sofia Escobar created the artwork above to resemble optical illusion. It's designed to bring harmony, unity and balance to the fast-paced and stressful hospital environment. By using basic elements of colour and shape that don't specifically relate to reality, the mind can rest and disconnect from objective realities.(Photo: Sofia Escobar)​

Art installations informed by the body's most complex organ, the brain, are on display at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) - and were designed to help patients heal.

The artwork, located on the first floor of the hospital, is a result of a pilot project between the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), the Al and Malka Green Artists' Health Centre and the Artists' Health Alliance, to showcase the work of Toronto's emerging artists and increase the presence of artwork at TWH.

"Art is transformative," said Bryan Croft, Executive Director of the Artists' Health Alliance (the foundation arm of the Artists' Health Centre). "The goal with this project is to add to the hospital's healing environment, these pieces are meant to touch the patients and staff in positive ways."

The Al and Malka Green Artists' Health Centre, located at Toronto Western Hospital, is the only centre of its kind in Canada to specialize in medical and complementary medicine to visual and performing artists.

The centre is also focuses on research, education and outreach to the arts community.

Art and medicine

"The relationship between art and medicine is something we have grown to understand better," said Jan Lackstrom, Senior Clinical Director. "Art can be complementary to medicine, together they can have a role in the well-being of patients."

Chung-Im Kim, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Art and Design at OCAD, was instrumental in creating the brain art exhibit. She's had previous experience exhibiting art in health-care settings, such as Baycrest.

"Toronto Western Hospital is known for its neuroscience program, which is why we chose the brain as the starting point to inform the students' work," said Kim.

"Displaying art in a health care institution is quite different than a gallery, so it is important that we respect where we are exhibiting and carefully research the environment and understand who inhabits the space," she continued.

The OCAD students, whose art work is on display, study in the fibre department of OCAD. They use a range of materials and textures to create unique works of art.

Fourth Year OCAD student Sofia Escobar chose to create a large geometrical piece that would resemble optical illusion in its design.

"The hospital setting can be stressful and it's also completely different from the close community we have at school. It was great to fill the walls with artwork that can inspire visitors as well as engage them in a different way, at least for a few moments," said Escobar.

"We received a great reaction from the public while we were setting up - visitors and hospital staff were very curious about the installations from the moment we started bringing in our artwork," she added.​

"Toronto Western hospital has such a unique connection to the arts community in the city," said Kathy Sabo, Senior Vice President. "We are honoured to have Toronto's next generation of artists showcasing their work for us to experience and we look forward to building a stronger relationship with OCAD."

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