By Alec Clayton
Local artist Kimberly Saltiel believes art has the power to heal, and she has the research to back it up. She notes that studies show a direct link between the content of images and the brain’s reaction to pain, stress and anxiety.
Hospitals and elderly care facilities turn to art as part of a broader push to create a healing environment—which is why Saltiel has created a series of paintings she calls “Healing with Beauty,” positive and uplifting paintings “intended to reduce stress and evoke feelings of joy and inspiration.”
Saltiel pointed to a survey done by The Cleveland Clinic’s Arts and Medicine Institute. The survey reported two groups saw most significant positive improvement in mood: patients who were motivated to get out of bed to view the artwork, and patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
Saltiel’s paintings are landscapes in the Impressionist tradition with thick dabs of paint in bright colors. There is a painting of two farm buildings nestled between a field of wheat and a scrim of evergreen trees, playing on the idea of the joys of a simpler life.
Another is Monet-like painting of a little country church in a field of tall green grass sprinkled with bright red and yellow flowers, closeups of purple flowers and trees bursting with white blossoms on the bank of a river.
If paintings such as these have healing power, it is no wonder they are so prevalent as calendar and greeting card art.
“My aesthetic is influenced by the energy and beauty that surrounds me in the Pacific Northwest. I love what I do and am dedicated to creating art that inspires connection and empowers individuals,” the artist says. “I am so grateful for the support that the city, local businesses and our community provides for artists. I am honored to be a part of Arts Walk 2019 and very excited to see the impact Healing with Beauty has.”
Saltiel is a member of the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military and is also a military spouse. Her husband, a purple heart recipient, medically retired from the Army in 2003 following an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion. He suffers from PTSD and currently volunteers as a peer counselor helping other veterans in their journey of healing.
“The aim,” says Saltiel, “is that whether you are a veteran navigating the VA, an elderly individual no longer able to live in your own home, or just someone in a hospital needing to heal, the right kind of art can help take your mind away from unpleasant thoughts and replace them with some beauty.”
Healing with Beauty, by Kimberly Saltiel
Art House Designs, 420 Franklin St. SE, Olympia
5-10 p.m. Friday, April 26;
12-8 p.m. Saturday, April 27