Humanizing Healthcare Through Art

Facing a health challenge usually brings up a lot of emotions and can cause patients and loved ones to deeply reflect on life in a new way. Out of this may come a deep need to express these feelings and new perspectives. One way to do that is through art.

Whether it’s a painting, a poem or a photograph, art can help us heal while giving others a window into the healthcare experience. Each quarter, The Beryl Institute will feature art created by patients and families that expresses some aspect of their experience.

Current Artists

Victoria Lyons

This painting of David Bartel was done by Victoria Lyons, granddaughter of Rosie and David Bartel. She gave it to Rosie after David died because she wanted to capture the pain he was in during this time. Even though he was in terrible pain for several months before and after he was diagnosed with multiple organ terminal cancer, he was there for everyone that he knew. 

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Paula Bartel

One Benign Tumor Changed My Life Forever

Paula spent her professional life as a reading specialist working in several school districts throughout Wisconsin. After her retirement from teaching, she was volunteering at local schools, continuing to help students improve their reading skills. She was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was located close to her optical nerve. Her doctors encouraged her to have it removed because it was growing. 

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Sarah Wolven


While I was finishing up my degree in art and photography, life took an unexpected turn that continues to shape my path - a journey of strength, resilience and adaptation from the heart of my medically-complex, NICU warrior. While I never could have fathomed a life where I have to hook my child up to different cords and feeds every day, this is a new world we take on daily – and my, what it has taught us.

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Marc Korobkin

Clean the Beeping Thing

I have been a caregiver for family members with serious illness and have witnessed the devastating impact that hospital acquired infections can have. My brother Bryan was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 at the age of 29, received 2 stem cell transplants, experienced many complications of these treatments, and passed away in 2016 from septic shock.

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Lois Bence-Ehlke

A Victim of Outside Forces

I celebrated my eightieth birthday this year. As a registered nurse of 60 years, an infection control nurse of 17 years, and a family member of two Veterans, my son and late husband, I have seen the multiple uncontrollable forces that pose health risks to Veterans. When I was a psychiatric nurse, I saw many Veterans who struggled with flashbacks, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts.

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Glenda Sirota

Feeling Alive through Painting

When I am painting, I focus entirely on making my canvas a combination of beautiful, bright colors and many different shapes. When I have completed the piece, I can then see many different objects, and faces that I didn’t see as I was painting. I am very relaxed, and I focus on my work and nothing else. Painting puts my mind and body at ease, healing all ills.

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Nikki Montgomery

Invisible: A Patient’s Haiku Series

Nikki (Charisse) Montgomery, MA, MEd, GPAC is the Executive Director of Madvocator Educational and Healthcare Advocacy Training. Her experiences as an educational psychologist, a communications expert, a patient advocate, and the parent of a child with complex healthcare and educational needs led her to create Madvocator.

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Sydney Graham

Wings Clipped

I've been a caregiver for the last 25 years. My first son was born with a birth defect and I jumped in with both feet. I partnered in everything from; presence during induction, changing bandages, giving meds, never leaving his side. We had a very successful journey and outcomes. When my second son presented with mental health and addictions, I felt incredibly capable to partner in his care. He wanted and needed me there. 

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Tanya Lord

Finding My Voice through Poetry

My son, Noah, was 4 years old when he died from a series of medical errors following a tonsillectomy. What plagued me from the start was the feeling that I had no voice. I spoke but was not listened to. I asked questions that were never answered. I did not know how to navigate a complex healthcare system and I did not know how to partner in my son’s care. After his death there was such anger around me. Family and friends were focused on blaming the providers that took care of Noah. The level of trust in healthcare was palpable in my family.

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