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Sharp Health News

The art of healing

June 29, 2018

The art of healing

The Imperial Beach Pier at sunset. Photo courtesy of Aaron Chang.

In a hospital, healing support can come from many sources: nurses, physicians, employees, volunteers and even the art hanging on the wall. As a Planetree Patient-Centered Care Hospital, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center acknowledges this fact and is dedicated to providing care that extends well beyond caring for a patient’s ailments, aiming to heal the person as a whole.

By fall 2019, the new hospital at Sharp Chula Vista will open, adding more than 100 private patient rooms and 6 state-of-the-art operating rooms. To ensure this unique level of care is extended throughout the new building, the team looked at what kind of art was needed for the walls.

That’s where Aaron Chang came in.

The world-renowned photographer and surfer was commissioned to capture the beauty of San Diego’s South Bay for an art collection created specifically for the new hospital. Below, he explains how art plays a role in the healing process.

Where do you gather inspiration for art and photos that will be used in the healing setting?
My inspiration comes from a lifetime of seeing the beauty of the ocean from a surfer’s perspective. When I was 35, I was in a surfing accident that almost left me paralyzed. It took me over one year of physical therapy to recover enough to get back in the water again. As a result of this accident, I made it a goal to never take the beauty of life or the freedom of movement for granted. It became my mission to inspire people to see the beauty around us by showing them the world through my lens.

How does art aid in the healing process?
Based on my interactions with patients who have experienced my work, I believe art aids in the healing process by awakening the life force within a person during times of crisis. Studies have shown that featuring universal elements of beauty in art in the health care setting can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as promote healing.

In less critical situations, the work creates a space of tranquility. It enables a patient to escape from anxiety or pain by showing them places that are familiar and captured in their most beautiful community, the South Bay. This recognizable element of the art gives patients solace and hope.

What are your hopes for the art at Sharp Chula Vista?
I hope to inspire patients and staff to see the beauty around them while receiving care or visiting a loved one in the hospital. I personally understand the pain and confusion that some may experience during life’s most difficult times, and it’s my mission to create an environment of healing and hope through art.

This passion for healing art extends to the employees of Sharp Chula Vista as well, who are constantly in a state of stress due to the nature of their jobs. I hold nurses, physicians and other clinical employees in very high regard and hope my art can help provide support for them as well.

Sharp HealthCare is honored to be working with Aaron Chang on many Sharp-affiliated projects throughout San Diego. His photos at the new Sharp Chula Vista will feature all South Bay nature scenes to celebrate the beauty of our region and bring soothing, peaceful healing to our patients and their loved ones. View more of his work.

For the news media: To talk with Aaron Chang about his art collection for Sharp Chula Vista for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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