The Role of Art in Wellbeing
By nora bouz - Wellbeing Design Consultant
Since the beginning of humanity, people used art as a form of expression: expression of what they find beautiful, expression of a feeling, or an idea…
In the modern times, scientists discovered that visual art stimulates our brain and triggers an emotional response, whether positive or negative. Throughout history and into the present, visual art has been used to change opinions, instil values and translate experiences. Art can be used to enhance wellbeing, through creating positive emotional responses.
How We Experience Art
Although art is experienced both intellectually and emotionally, in many cases, the purpose of art is the creation of an emotional response or experience.
Art representing nature will produce a calming and relaxing effect, as nature does.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities use art to create a pleasant feeling that leads to relaxation and an easing of negative emotions.
Research by Ulrish and Gilpin suggests that when hospital patients are put in rooms with art representing nature, they experienced benefits including:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Decreased pain intensity
• Improved pain control
• Improved postoperative heart surgery outcomes
Three Things to Consider When Choosing Art for Your Home:
1. Landscapes and Pleasant Associations
Bright, open landscapes often evoke a feeling of beauty, relaxation, or happiness. This connection to pleasant emotions exists because, in the past, it was advantageous to humans to be able to see brightly lit environments far into the distance. Similarly, visual images that are dark and obscure typically elicit emotions of anxiety and fear. This is because an impeded visual field is disadvantageous for those who could experience a physical attack.
Keep dark art representing suffering, pain, confusion or any negative emotion in an area that not seen frequently, so people don't have to live with it for an extended period. Hallways, transitional spaces, or art rooms are most suitable.
Vibrant colours elicit happiness and excitement. Place art with vivid colours in social spaces like the living room and dining room, while placing art with more calming colours in the bedroom, bathroom and areas where people relax. Both vibrant and calming art is good in the foyer as they both evoke a pleasant and inviting feeling.
The human brain unconsciously searches for symmetry. Our mind associates symmetry and balance with beauty. Art containing symmetry, therefore, evokes a positive experience.
Although abstract art can reflect a great talent and many find it intriguing and more interesting than other forms of visual art, abstract art is open to interpretation based on personal experience and cultural background. When art can be interpreted in different ways and trigger different emotions, be mindful of what each painting evoke for you and your family and place those that elicit positive emotions in spaces that are frequently used.
Whether painting, photography or sculpture, art plays an important role in the making of a house into a home. Art tells our unique story, stimulates emotions and memories, and can affect our sense of wellbeing. It is not always easy to choose the right art, or to place art or an art collection effectively to evoke positive emotions and moods while complementing the aesthetic of the space.