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Wexner Medical Center Employees reduce stress through art

Wexner Medical Center Employees reduce stress through art

Jess Wojtasek, senior user experience designer at the Wexner Medical Center, showcases her oil painting at the annual “Medicine and the Arts” show Credit: Jess Wojtasek

After aging out of elementary school art shows, art doesn’t just have to be relegated to your parents’ fridge.

An Ohio State College of Medicine art show allows students, residents, faculty and staff of Ohio State’s Health Science Colleges and the Wexner Medical Center to cultivate compassion and human expression, Serena Smith, senior consultant of media relations at the Wexner Medical Center, said. The annual event, titled “Medicine and the Arts,” is comprised of two parts: a temporary show that took place March 6-8 and an extended display that opened Thursday at the James Art Gallery, running until April 18. 

According to Dr. Sheryl Pfeil, director of the Linda Stone Humanism and the Arts in Medicine program, the show provides a space for rejuvenation and the recapturing of one’s resilience. 

“I think it’s been increasingly important for those who find art to be a meaningful form of expression personally,” Pfeil said.

Jess Wojtasek, senior user experience designer at the Wexner Medical Center and art show participant, said her work is directly influenced by the Columbus landscape. Her piece, an oil painting of an intersection on Hubbard Avenue and High Street, is of the place she calls home. 

“Most of my artwork focuses on places where I am familiar with,” Wojtasek said. “I start my process by getting a bunch of reference photos of different scenes.” 

Wojtasek said she started painting when she was a little kid, and that participation in the art show allowed her to combine both of her interests. 

“The art show married both my outside-of-work world and my work world in one place,” Wotjasek said. “It’s kind of a unique opportunity to share.” 

Wojtasek said she often turns to painting to deal with work stress because it is an activity that consistently makes her feel grounded.

“Painting is kind of like my medicine and it’s therapeutic in that way,” Wojtasek said. “In addition to being therapeutic, it’s like a nice goal-oriented activity for me to have outside of work.”

Sarah Irwin, a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and art show participant, said she submitted a photograph titled “Walking Among Giants,” which was taken in Kings Canyon National Park along the Congress Trail. 

“I thought it was a cool shot because the sequoia trees all around the people were so tall and just off in the distance,” Irwin said, “I thought it was a nice scale and showed how small we have in the grand scale of nature in the wider world.”

Irwin said photography is a way for her to decompress and relax. 

“A lot of my photos are taken while I’m out traveling or hiking, so it is a nice way to combine my interest and get out in nature to document beautiful things that I’m lucky enough to see,” Irwin said. 

Irwin’s work focuses on addressing trauma and reducing suicide risk, and she does a lot of research on ways to reduce stress that can also be used in her daily life. 

“I’m trying to apply what I learn in my studies to myself,” Irwin said.

Irwin said taking breaks for relaxation is important. 

“I encourage people to spend more time in nature and be more mindful of their relations with the natural world,” Irwin said.