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Local art studio brings healing beyond medicine

Senior Art Developer, Hannah Stewart, works in the Kalisher studio in Carrboro to create a piece of healing art. Photo Courtesy of David Winton.

Senior Art Developer, Hannah Stewart, works in the Kalisher studio in Carrboro to create a piece of healing art. Photo Courtesy of David Winton.

 It’s a picturesque scene of a tree, sitting idly in a green field with tiny farm houses in the background — while the sky of gold has turned into streaks of golden heaven that contrast with the blue sky below it.

This is what Kalisher, a local art studio in Carrboro, considers healing art.

With 80 employees — 10 of them internal artists and designers — Kalisher is a space that creates both curated and collaborated art, with healing art as a category.

Jesse Kalisher, president and CEO, said it is important for artists to be on top of the latest research for environmentally-based art. The studio creates art for hospitals, senior centers and other facilities.

“It is also evidence-based art, the more technical term, and there have been studies done that show that the right art in the right environment helps the healing process; it helps patients’ recoveries,” he said. “And the counterpoint is that the wrong art in the wrong environment is counterproductive.”

Kalisher said when he started creating healing art, he looked for advice from interior designers and healthcare professionals to give feedback.

David Winton, vice president and creative director, said there is a specific process for matching spaces and pieces.

“Our studio process involves creating art with traditional materials and blending them digitally,” he said. “An example could be we take a picture of a dandelion and add an additional layer that gives it an even softer feeling to it or de-saturizate it a little bit in a way that it is readable, not only as a nice calming nature photo but also atmospheric and warm with colors being the key.”

Kimberly Kolcz, an interior designer and owner of Offay Design Studio in California and a frequent collaborator with Kalisher, said Kalisher blends traditional nature scenes with modern art twists.

“Nature on its own is what we try to bring into the art in each of these facilities and it’s not in its literal sense, but in its colors — it comes down to nature and nature’s colors that allow us to be relaxed,” she said.

Kalisher said the design aesthetic, location and architecture of each hospital affects the art’s design, Winton said.

“You have to look finally at where the piece is going — is it going in a pediatric ward, a cancer ward, a psych ward — and every one of those areas carry with them certain criteria that the research tells us about (how) the evidence-based art (works) in the healing process,” Kalisher said.

Winton said the art is made to give a sense of direction to patients.

“Rather than having repetition pieces, we often try making each piece unique so it’s like a way-finding marker,” he said.

Winton said the studio completed 20 health care-related projects this year.

“I felt that that was very important in that art is not only here to provoke and inspire and add to the conversation of life, but it’s also there to heal and help provide a passage to emotional well-being.”


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