Northborough woman uses art to help heal
By Frangelica Odell, Contributing Writer
Northborough – For a young child who must spend time in a hospital emergency room, the sterile environment can be cold, frightening and overwhelming. But now, thanks to Northborough artist Erika Swift, young patients at the Metrowest Medical Center (MWMC) in Framingham are treated in rooms that are bright, cheerful and painted with familiar characters.
Swift is a recent graduate of Framingham State University where she majored in fine arts with a concentration in illustrations and ceramics. Before graduating, at the suggestion of her professor, she was asked to paint several murals in the MWMC emergency pediatric ward after it was renovated.
The old ward was decked out with these beautiful murals. The children missed them so much that one of the nurses wanted someone to redo them,” Swift explained. “She approached my Illustrations professor and proposed this project idea for one of his students.”
Now Swift is volunteering her time to recreate some of her more memorable characters and drawings and bring them to life for patients to enjoy for years to come.
Swift first submitted her portfolio to the director of the emergency ward and several nurses who then decided on three themes.
One room will house an imaginative and adventurous bear character who dreams of going to the moon. The other two rooms will feature whimsical fairies, frogs and bugs, and a nature theme with a tree as the focal point.
“I wanted each room to have a story to it that I started for the children and that they can take it the rest of the way themselves. There are hidden details in the murals that [the children] might not notice right away, but that they can take away from it what they want and they can keep their minds occupied while receiving treatment,” Swift said.
Swift has been working on the project since early summer, sometimes as early as 5 a.m. to accommodate the hospital’s busy hours. She hopes to have the murals finished in the next few months.
Inspired by beloved children’s author, Beatrix Potter, best known for her “Peter Rabbit” stories, Swift aspires to have her own books and illustrations published in the near future.
Going forth, she also hopes to use her artwork to help young patients, such as those who visit MWMC.
“I would hope that my art helps to heal,” she said. “That when children read stories, not just my own, and see different pieces of art that they get some healing from that, that they use their imagination, and that the murals inspire them to make their own artwork.”
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