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Photographer's Work Calms Minds of Cancer Patients, Families

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The cover of Healing Images book

The cover of Healing Images book /Stacy Niedwiecki

Stacy Niedwiecki

Stacy Niedwiecki /Stacy Niedwiecki

Wandering the halls of a hospital can be a lonely walk. Patients and families are in unfamiliar territory, corridors might seem to be a maze and for those spending multiple days in the same space there is little to divert the mind from the often heavy issues at hand.

Making a hospital's open space more calming, familiar, warm and interesting to a patient (and the family) is standard procedure in healthcare now. Spectrum Health's new Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion is no exception. Adding to the feel of the space are 63 nature images by local photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki The images are part of the permanent art collection at Spectrum Health  "Art plays a key role in the healing journey. It provides a connection to the patient that speaks its own language. Healing art is a spiritual path, a transformational process. It unites the mind, body and spirit," said Richard Funnell, senior director, Spectrum Health's Oncology program.

"Stacy's artwork was brought to our attention by one of our Patient and Family Advisory Council members. This group greatly influenced the what art was selected," said Carrie Manders, Spectrum Health spokesperson.

Niedzwiecki has a portfolio of work with American Art Resources a company that specializes in healthcare art and environments, which has placed her work in hospitals across the U.S.

"Every image that was placed in the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion (with the exception of one) was taken in Michigan. They are all outdoor images, tranquil and relaxing nature scenes," said Niedzwiecki. Many of the images were taken during her time as an Artist-in-Residence with the Glen Arbor Art Association in October 2007. Many of the images feature scenes from Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leelanau and the Port Oneida areas.

Her relationship with American Art Resources has changed how she shoots now. "I don't shoot images with people in them. This allows the viewer to place their own perspective on the image; allows them to place themselves into the photo without identifying with someone else. It allows the art to be more personal. This is very different then when shooting travel or tourism photos where the emphasis is on people enjoying themselves in an environment," said Niedzwiecki.

In a co-publishing partnership with Spectrum Health, Niedzwiecki has created a book, "Healing Images" featuring the cancer center's photographs. "I'm a graphic designer by trade and I've created projects like this one for other people. This idea started when I was casually talking with someone about how wonderful it was to have so many works of art in the same place. I joked that there were enough images to make a book," she said. "That person (who was person who originally recommended her work to hospital staff) encouraged me."  She concepted the book, made some sample copies which she shared with her mom and the Advisory Board at Lemmen-Holton. After weeks of discussion, meeting, planning and research the final concept for the book was developed. Niedzwiecki managed the design and printing. "I had a lot of support from Spectrum to complete the project," she said. It features color reproductions of all images in the Lemmen-Holton center collection and is titled, "Healing Images."

The book is available online at or at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion gift shop. The website also has book signing dates.

In another project that was just released, she has 12 pages of photographs featured in a new book. "Spring" published by Pure Michigan


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