In good hands

Houston nonprofit utilizes art to connect medical professionals to patients

Doctors are people too — some are even artists. This Houston organization is shining a light on Houston's multifaceted physicians. Courtesy of Arts of Healing

Imagine your doctor holding a paintbrush rather than a stethoscope. The Arts of Healing is working to connect patients to their medical professionals in a new way, encouraging a more personal connection that extends beyond the exam room.

Established in 2017 by Lori and Isaac Raijman, The Arts of Healing Foundation is a Houston-based nonprofit organization that unites physicians from the major hospitals throughout the Texas Medical Center to showcase their unique artistic talents and fundraise for local organizations. Over the past three years, the organization has raised $188,000 for charity.

Lori Raijman, founder, worked as a public school teacher for 24 years, introducing art as a voice and vehicle for her students.

"After my teaching career, I started managing my husband's art business, and he is a physician who paints," Raijman tells InnovationMap. "People would come to his office and talk to him about art, their first encounter with him was different because of the connection through the art."

The Arts of Healing hosts an annual art show where physicians exhibit their work, from painting and photography to music. The 2019 show will take place on Friday, November 8, at the Post Oak Hotel and will benefit The Sunshine Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting children who are fighting cancer.

The Arts of Healing is also planning events outside of the annual art show where physicians can spend time with the children supported by The Sunshine Kids Foundation. During these events, medical professionals will bring in art supplies and musical instruments to interact with the children.

"It's a different level of giving back in sharing the love you have for creating through an experience," says Raijman.

Past beneficiaries include Lung Force (2018) and Pancreatic Cancer (2017).

Raijman tells InnovationMap that her first art show was in 2008 at Hotel Zaza with an attendance of some 300 people. "Years passed and I was trying to figure out how to have physicians art rotate through the hospitals," said Raijman. "Some hospitals do show photography of their physicians in the call, but there wasn't an exhibit of art anywhere."

In 2017, Issac Raijman's art was noticed by a friend who worked with River Oaks District that offered to display the art inside the stores.

"It was like a lightbulb just went off," Raijman tells InnovationMap.

She then moved forward with gathering a group of physicians to showcase their art at the retail stores and raise money for charity. Some two dozen physicians participated in the first exhibition and around 2,000 people attended.

"You see the physicians willing to show this vulnerability that we don't normally see and as a patient that is refreshing," says Raijman. She explains that she feels patients usually feel vulnerable when dealing with medical professionals, sharing their most personal information.

The Arts of Healing website states that studies show art supports creativity and practice in medicine, making better physicians; it also enables medical professionals to better connect, empathize with, and support their patients.

"It also unifies the doctors of the Texas Medical Center," says Raijman. "When you think about the Texas Medical Center and the gold mine of talent there and it's not been harnessed together in this way before, that's a unique factor."

Raijman is also planning an event that will take place next year for women in the medical field, bringing together medical professionals from a variety or practices and specializations.

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Building Houston

 
 

"There's something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it." Photo via Getty Images

Houston's seen a growth in startup and venture investment — even amid the pandemic — and a group of Houston innovators sat down for a virtual event to discuss what's lead to this evolution.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted an installment of its Houston Industry Series focused on Digital Tech on Thursday, September 24. The panel of experts, moderated by Krisha Tracy of Google Cloud, discussed how they've observed the paradigm shift that's occurred in Houston over the past few years — and why.

Missed the discussion? Here are some significant overheard moments from the virtual event.

“I think there really is an interest for venture capital here, both locally and also welcoming it from outside of Houston. … There’s something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it. I think that magical piece is a renewed interest in collaborating.”

Stephanie Campbell, managing director of Houston Angel Network and co-founder of The Artemis Fund. "I think a lot [of this progress] is due to the GHP, Houston Exponential, and the founding of the HX Venture Fund to bring those venture funds to Houston to say, 'what's happening here?'" Campbell adds, saying that this connectivity and collaboration that's happening in Houston VC is unique.

“I think there’s a misconception around all we do is oil and gas and life science in Houston, but when you think about what VC-backable companies look like, they’re tech, they’re B2B SaaS, they’re highly scalable, and they don’t tend to be capital-intensive types of things we see corporate venture backing.”

Campbell says, adding "the connectivity and the interest in VC is really taking off. It's an exciting time to be in Houston and Texas in general."

“Plug and Play’s ventures team is based in Silicon Valley and one thing they enjoy about meeting Houston-based founders is valuations tend to be more reasonable than in the Bay Area."

Payal Patel, director of Plug and Play Tech Center in Houston. "There are gems to be found," she adds.

“I don’t know what it is — if it’s something in the water or just Texans being very friendly, but the investors here share deal flow. It takes a village, and I think we all understand a rising tide lifts all boats."

Patel says on the collaborative nature of Houston. "It's really magical."

“What you’re witnessing is a city that has been waiting for industrial innovation to reach the point where it can be adopted at a really high scale, and that happened around 2017.”

Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge Texas in Houston. Nordby adds that MassChallenge in Houston hasn't been keen on consumer tech, or the "grilled cheese delivery apps," as he describes. "We like companies that are in love with problems, not so much in love with solutions. … We build really meaningful tech."

“Over the last year or two, we’ve seen that sleeping giant get awoken. Open and external innovation is newly adopted by more legacy industries where it wasn’t before — and that’s just created a mountain of opportunities for startups and investors alike.”

Nordby says on the shift toward this meaningful, problem-solving technology, which Houston is full of, as he observes.

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