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The Art of Recovery: A holistic approach to healing

By Mitali Pradhan, October 2 2019 —

The Art of Recovery, a club at the University of Calgary, aims to improve hospital patients’ well-being and support the healing process through art. 

“We are focused on holistic health care,” said Fatima Saleem, the club’s president. The goal is to combine art forms such as paintings and music and use them as a method of healing for patients in hospitals around the city.”

Ashar Siddiqui, the club’s vice president of events and marketing, said he was inspired to start a club targeting holistic healing after talking to a patient at Rockyview Hospital about art. That spurred the idea of holding art sessions in the hospital and using art to promote wellbeing. 

The Students’ Union-registered club has several events planned for this year, which are both on campus and in hospitals around the city. Events on campus include Cards for a Cause where volunteers can create holiday cards to be distributed to patients in the hospital. 

There are also paint nights open to university and high school students. Provided with art supplies, students will make paintings to be donated to the hospital. The commitment for members is flexible, with students auctioning volunteer hours.

“It’s really what you make out of your experience,” said Saleem. “In our Art of Recovery Symposium, instead of auctioning with money, people will auction with volunteer hours.” 

Paintings, created by patients with mental and physical health issues or by students during paint nights, will be given to the highest volunteer hour bidder. The bidder would receive the painting after completing their volunteer hours. The volunteer shifts are in different locations, such as the Evanston Retirement Home, and are pre-assigned for each painting.

“We are open and go on the schedule of our volunteers,” said Siddiqui. “You can contribute anywhere from one to four hours per month.”

The club also brings together different forms of art. In addition to paintings, the club also brings in talented musicians from the university to participate in healing. 

Currently the club is looking to fill junior executive positions and also has opportunities for participating in paint nights and Cards for a Cause throughout the year. The club is also planning educational workshops on holistic healthcare for students to learn more about its benefits. 


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