Spotlight on Maria Lupo, Atlantic Health Coordinator

Maria Lupo is the Healing Arts Coordinator for Atlantic Health, NJ. She has been coordinating our Atlantic Health exhibition for employees and their families since 2007 with continued success. Each year their participation grows tremendously and their 2010 show was no exception.
With 268 pieces of artwork from 240 different artists that represent 55 departments within the hospital system, this is a 30% increase from 2009!
Maria Lupo is extremely passionate about the healing effect the arts have in a hospital setting and believes strongly in the connection that the National Arts Program® provides employees and their families.
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit displayed at Atlantic Health?
A. The National Arts Program® is very personal; it’s artwork from our employees and their families, making it a true celebration of the talent of Atlantic Health!
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. There are a few reasons; it is a harmonizing activity between staff members, family members and both our campuses – plus for some it is the first time that they have picked up art materials since high school – it’s a good thing! And of course art is a great stress reliever!
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork in the hospitals?
A. The response has been overwhelmingly very positive! Many of the physicians have commented that displaying art in our main lobby puts humanism into medicine creating a welcoming environment.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. Art has always been there for me even during very difficult times in my life. It is my identity and my life!
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts?
A. Always as soon as I could hold a crayon!
Q. Are you an artist yourself?
A. Yes, I mostly create sculpture with themes that include spirituality and ecology. I have even used topsoil as a primary medium!
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in a hospital setting is so important?
A. The arts give the hospital environment the human touch. The artwork tells our patients and visitors that we can share with them our expression of ourselves, making a more personal connection. Also, viewing art has even been shown to reduce anxiety. For our visitors, sometimes the art is a simple diversion that distracts them from their anxiety from a test or illness.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. I have to pick two and they both involve the art / artist. I love to see a first time artist enter the show, but I also enjoy seeing the development of an artist overtime. We are going into our 5th year and some of the artists have been with the program from the very beginning!
Q. Your first show in 2007 had 130 participating artists while your 2010 show broke your own record with 240 participating artists. How have you managed to increase your participation over the years?
A. My committee does its best to get the word out in different creative ways every year. However, for our third year, we moved the exhibition from the basement to the main lobby of the hospital which added visibility and more entries followed.
Q. Do patients and/or hospital visitors respond to the exhibit?
A. Very positive with kind remarks at the front desk or little love notes in our people’s choice box. Many of the comments directly relate to the quality of artwork and are impressed that it is an employee exhibition. While others have commented that it helped them while they were waiting, making the time pass in a positive and uplifting way.
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program.
A. For me, the art take in day is like Christmas morning – filled with many wonderful surprises! Your program makes the event so special – since it gives employees a sense that they are connected to a large group and your guidance keeps us on target!!!
Atlantic Health System