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Hooverwood Joins the Healing Power of Art


Local public artist, Joanie Rothenberg, has a mission: to bring people together to learn, heal, grow, and build connections through art. She believes that art-making can help those suffering from illness, both mental and physical, by providing a connection, cultivating compassion, building courage, and creating a sense of community through collective contribution.

But how does she achieve a goal of such magnitude? One way is through mosaics.

The story begins at St. Vincent Cancer Center.  Rothenberg teamed up with the center’s art therapy program, painting a large-scale mural of water lilies on several massive wooden planks. The paintings were then brought to the hospital where patients could come and glue glass tiles onto the boards, following the color patterns painted, ultimately creating a sprawling mosaic of vibrant lilies, which was then hung in the hospital.

“ The program is a discovery about how people can work together; people celebrating beautiful connections,” Rothenberg said in a video documenting the project. “It has given them [the patients] so much life.”

Now, with the success of the first mosaic project, Rothernberg is working on another. This time, the final piece will be sent to Israel and hung in Galilee Medical Center. And since her mission is based around building communities, something we at Hooverwood immensely value, we simply had to be part of it.

“Any organization can be part of this. It’s about getting people involved in the Indy community,” Rothenberg said.

For one day, the mosaic was brought to our lobby where residents, visitors, and staff were encouraged to take a few minutes, or a few hours, to glue as many tiles as they could onto the board.

“The staff was so engaged and excited to take part in the project,” Rothenberg said. “Every person I saw [at Hooverwood] wanted to put a tile on.”

We’re excited to have been part of such a meaningful project. The connections we made and the smiles we shared are now, in a small way, part of the mosaic, which will be shared with patients at Galilee Medical.

“If it works with cancer,” Rothenberg said, commenting on the power of building connections through art, “it can work with anything.”