Art’s Healing Touch

Jeff Koons at Advocate Children's Hospital

When Diane Brown started RxArt in 2002, the former gallerist had a million ideas about how art could improve hospitals and waiting rooms, but, she says, “no idea of what I was getting into” in regards to the logistics surrounding healthcare administration. Dismissed out of hand by skeptical boards—who cited conservative fine print and small budgets—Brown finally found her guinea pig at New York’s Rockefeller University Hospital. There, her proposal captured the imagination of Dr. Barry Coller, the hospital’s progressive physician-in-chief and husband of New York curator Barbara Coller. News of Brown’s site-specific project for Coller—which was a homerun success—spread quickly, eventually translating into a steady stream of requests and invitations. More than a decade later, the non-profit continues to grow, brightening hospitals across the US with museum-quality commissions. Here, Brown shares a few of her favorite projects.


Jeff Koons at Advocate Children’s Hospital “I was working with a radiologist at the time and we were brainstorming names for a CAT scan project we’d come up with. I asked him what his dream artist was. We both agreed on Jeff. Luckily, he was kind enough to acquiesce. He’s been very generous with us.” Courtesy of Michael Tropea.


Keith Haring at La Rabida Children’s Hospital “The space was this big glass atrium that you could see from the parking lot and all over the hospital. I thought what would I want to see when approaching? Keith Haring. I didn’t need to sell it to the hospital either. They loved it.”

Courtesy of Michael Tropea.


The RxArt Coloring Book Volume IV “The first time we did the coloring book, we just started asking for artist submissions. A lawyer on our board reminded us of the fine print, so we reprinted that first edition in a more grown up way. Now, it’s one of our traditions. Each time we do it—they get better and better.”

Courtesy of RxArt.


Rob Pruitt at Saint Mary’s Hospital “The idea for this mural came actually from a benefit we did with Chanel. They had made this 40-foot zebra-print banner with Rob, which everyone colored on with special Chanel crayons. We’d liked the idea so much we turned it into a dry-eraser project. Of course, Rob being an artist couldn’t do the same thing twice.”

Courtesy of RxArt.


AVAF at The Special Children’s Center “This is a center in Lakewood, N.J. for children with special needs. The doctors there have the biggest hearts. They had a room that was huge and problematic. As soon as I saw it, I knew Eli Sudbrack [of Assume Vivid Astro Focus] would be perfect for the job. The initial thought was the ceiling, but the project grew into two walls. “

Photograph by Gabriella Perez.


Sam Fallis Print “I love doing things with artists who are at different places in their careers. Sam is one of the younger artists we’ve worked with. We asked him to do a print for us. He had never done one. It was the second one we’d ever commissioned. Each one is inked individually, so they are all a little different. I adore them.”

Courtesy of the artist.