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Healing and Nature in Artist's Work Displayed at DHMC

Healing and Nature in Artist's Work Displayed at DHMC

We're very fortunate here that our administration over the years have really valued the arts in the health care setting. It reduces stress levels and provides distractions for people.

Marianne Barthel

Artist Rita Dee says it's a privilege to have her artwork displayed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and she is grateful it can help "elevate" patients, their families and caregivers, as well as staff members.

"I like the idea of my work being able to elevate people from their daily experience, and maybe give them the chance to think about something different," Dee says. "For me, art has always been a very healing thing. I love looking at nature and wildlife, and to bring that to my work and have it in a setting like DHMC, it's very gratifying for me."

Dee, a Bennington, VT-based artist, was able to bring her love of nature and healing together when she unveiled her 9-foot tall moose sculpture at DHMC.

Marianne Barthel, arts program coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), says there are many scientific studies that support the idea of art benefitting patients in a health care environment.

"We're very fortunate here that our administration over the years have really valued the arts in the health care setting. It reduces stress levels and provides distractions for people," she says. "The arts program is here for patients, their families and visitors in addition to our staff. We want to enhance the environment for everyone in this building. We have a stunning collection of art here, and we're very excited to add this to our collection."

The statuesque moose is made entirely of driftwood from the Hudson River, a practice that Dee has been developing for 25 years. As a child, Dee says she was always drawing and sculpting, and later in life she began to make horses out of steel. Since those materials were toxic, she switched to wood that she collected near her family's Redhook, NY home.

"I search and search for the right pieces. The materials come together kind of like drawing on a piece of paper. Sometimes it's a struggle to find the right pieces, but it also creates an energy. If I didn't have the struggle, I wouldn't have the feeling and energy of the moose," Dee says.

D-H President and CEO Dr. Jim Weinstein saw Dee's moose at the Bennington Welcome Center at the end of last year, and by May 2, thanks to a grateful D-H patient and family, the moose had arrived at DHMC.

"Dr. Weinstein recognizes the value of art and health care and the intersection of the two," Barthel says. "And our staff did a phenomenal job of getting it here. The 800-pound stone base with metal rods was delivered, and the next day the moose arrived. Our staff did a fantastic job of getting it where it needed to be."

Dee says the moose sculpture took her about three months to complete.

"Some days I can have 10 pieces that come together, and some days I struggle to make three look right," she says.

Dee's moose is a permanent part of D-H's art collection, something that she felt was a natural fit.

"I feel that moose and New Hampshire go hand in hand. Sometimes creating art can be a lonely thing, so to have my moose out in the public and in a place like DHMC – it's just very exciting," she says.


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