This art is bringing a therapeutic approach to creativity.

“The Art of Healing Exhibition” will be on display through May 10 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Johnstown on the Pitt-Johnstown campus, Richland Township.

The exhibition highlights works created during SAMA’s Museum Healthcare Partnership Program residencies at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.

The works in “The Art of Healing Exhibition,” which is now in its eighth year, were created during residencies with SAMA teaching artist Jaime Cooper.

Jessica Campbell, SAMA’s education coordinator, said the program provides community outreach and the exhibit showcases to patrons the work they are doing.

“Participants at Conemaugh work with one of SAMA’s teaching artists for 10 sessions to create and learn various art forms,” she said.

SAMA’s Museum Healthcare Partnership Program debuted in 2003 to help residents suffering from mental and physical disabilities.

Through the program, the museum’s trained artists and educators work with health-care providers to develop residencies and workshops aimed at providing relief for patients dealing with physical pain and discomfort.

Since its early beginnings as a partnership with Conemaugh Health System and a series of Artist-in-Residence programs at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, SAMA’s program has grown to work with multiple organizations.

During the residencies, patients have the opportunity to work with professional artists and learn artistic disciplines such as painting, sculpting, puppetry, dance, collage and storytelling.

To date, the program has benefited more than 800 individuals throughout central and western Pennsylvania.

Campbell said this year’s exhibition includes a number of paintings as well as memory books.

“SAMA hopes to give participants a sense of accomplishment,” she said.

“Their works are displayed in an accredited art museum. We’re also proud to showcase the residency work that we are doing in the community.”

Through Cooper’s residency, she taught a group of students with chronic illness drawing, painting and art composition skills.

“Students constructed sketchbooks from heavyweight drawing paper, using a sewn binding and collaged the covers and inner pages if they chose using decorative paper and photographs,” she said.

“They filled the sketchbook with drawings, acrylic and watercolor paintings, colored pencil and marker artwork.”

Subjects were completely up to the individual student.

“Some made memory sketchbooks, some made poetry books and some did a theme like photography or flowers,” Cooper said.

“I also helped them to enhance drawing skills through various pencil and acrylic drawing exercises.

“We explored how to use color to create form and light through acrylic painting.”

She said the goal of the projects was to help the students increase their art skills, to achieve a sense of accomplishment, to experience a brief change or break from their medical concerns and for them to experience a positive and supportive environment.

“I hope that people who see their art take away a sense of the enormous bravery of my students when they face the every-day challenges that they must, and are inspired in turn to perhaps trying to create their own art,” Cooper said.

Campbell said it’s their hope that during the time participants are working with the artists they can forget what is troubling them and find the joy in their work.

“We want them to enjoy their experience with our artists and we hope for temporary relief from whatever ails them,” she said.

For those who see the work, Campbell wants them to gain a better understanding that everyone can be creative.

“No matter the circumstances, everyone should create and/or enjoy art,” she said.

The project was made possible through the AIE Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

To celebrate the exhibition, an opening reception was held March 21.

The museum is open to the public free of charge.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 814-472-3920 or visit

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.