Is abstract art sometimes OK in healthcare facilities?
Research by Newman, Bartels, and Smith sheds light on why we become so attached to artworks. They learned that “art objects are seen as physical extensions of their creators.” A press release issued by Topics in Cognitive Science, quotes study author Newman: "’One prediction that comes out of this idea is that artwork that seems like it has really had a lot of close physical contact with the artist, i.e., you can see evidence of his or her 'hand,' may be preferred to art where that direct physical connection is less obvious.’”
Our response to artwork depends on where it’s displayed. Brieber and his team have learned, for example, that people are more tolerant of art whose message is ambiguous when it is located in museums than when it is placed in other settings. Details: “The experience of art emerges from the interaction of various cognitive and affective processes. . . . Two groups of participants viewed an art exhibition in one of two contexts: one in the museum, the other in the laboratory. . . .
Not surprisingly, contexts, social and physical, influence how art is judged. Gartus and Leder learned that “The cognitive and emotional processes involved in experiencing an artwork are influenced by characteristics of the artwork and the viewer, but also by contextual factors. . . . . we embedded modern artworks and graffiti art in street and museum scenes. Participants with different style preferences were asked to evaluate them for liking, interest, and valence. . . .
Contemporary art may have a place in healthcare environments, just as nature art does. As Karmik and her team relate, “It is not firmly established whether an art collection of diverse subject matter, media, and imagery in the hospital environment can play a significant role in mitigating the psychological stresses and physical pain associated with a hospital visit, or whether it improves patients' satisfaction with their care. . . . Previous research concluded that nature art (i.e., representational depictions of nature) has positive effects on patient health outcomes. . . .
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