When the technologist says, “Okay, now just relax,” the patient searches overhead, looking for something to distract her, to help her relax. She tries to see patterns in the shadows thrown across the white ceiling tiles while the technologist positions her for imaging, but can’t. She shuts her eyes.
This problem wouldn’t stop bothering Veena Rajeevan, radiology supervisor for General Diagnostic Radiology/Bone Density at Winship Cancer Institute (WCI). How could she make the imaging environment less stressful? About six months ago, the solution hit her: paint.
“My idea for the Employee Engagement Committee was to paint the ceiling tiles, and to get our staff involved in something fun and creative,” says Veena, who’s been with Emory for nineteen years. “I thought we could hang the ceiling tile paintings to brighten the hallways and exam rooms.”
She calls it Art for Care. Facilities Management gives her the ceiling tiles, which she paints during her lunch breaks. Each tile takes 20-30 minutes to complete. The work is as therapeutic for her as it is for patients.
“While growing up in India, I spent most of my time drawing and painting,” Veena explains. “Everything around me, the lights and shadows, fascinated me. The urge for painting comes from the very deep inside of me. I am basically a self- taught artist inspired by several great artists and mostly inspired by my dad, who is also a self- taught artist!”
So far, Veena has painted about thirty tiles. Patients and radiology colleagues love them so much, they asked for painted tiles for CT, ultrasound, and MRI.
“Patients have given me so much positive feedback,” Veena says. “One patient told me that most of the WCI patients are cancer patients who are very scared about everything. They are so stressed and worried. But these paintings are helping to take their minds away from all the bad feelings.”
After coming to the U.S. twenty-seven years ago, Veena, who twice won India’s National Talent Search scholarship for painting, set aside her paints to focus on being a wife and raising two boys. Now that her sons are grown, Art for Care gives Veena the opportunity to rediscover through painting, “the light and shadows we pass through in our lives.”
Now when radiology patients look up, they find comfort in the bright, light art, and for a while, the shadows disappear.
If you’d like to help with Art for Care, please contact Veena Rajeevan at 404-778-3573.