Art is now an integral part of the interior design plan for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Not only does it warm up and decorate spaces that are usually white and aseptic, but it’s even proven that art has true benefits for the health as they release positive energy around. As signage experts, we are often contacted to create wayfinding or directory signs for healthcare facilities. But this specific project with artist Rachael McCampbell really took our mission to another level. We are grateful for this opportunity to participate in the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital art project, to brighten their patients’ lives.

DSA and artist Rachael McCampbell are brightening the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital truly believes that displaying and illuminating art in areas where patients are treated has the power of healing and reassuring them. They have created an art program in their hospital, featuring more than 30 local artists’ artwork to create a happier place and capture their patients’ imagination. Their art gallery is available online and can be explored here.

DSA had the pleasure of supporting one of the local artists chosen for this cause by providing an illuminated picture frame for their art piece and mimicking a stained-glass window.

This framed, illuminated art piece has been installed in a room of the Hobson Wood Foundation Chapel where no natural light was entering after the two windows were covered with acrylic panels to create a confined environment. Rachel McCampbell, the artist, created an art piece that represents nature and escape, a way to unleash the spirituality of the room and inspire the Chapel’s visitors.

Because of the darkness of the room and the purpose of this art piece, Rachael wanted to illuminate it from the back to create that glow and light halo without disturbing the room set up and peacefulness with additional light fixtures.


“Forest Glow” by Rachael McCampbell

Illuminating artwork from the back – how does it work?

McCampbell used Ranger alcohol inks on Yupo paper to produce thin yet vibrant colors, a characteristic of stained-glass windows. But since Yupo paper is not transparent enough to let the light shine through (see our article about backlit light boxes and film material) and dyes are fugitive, Rachael came up with an alternative to add backlit lighting to her artwork. She scanned her original artwork, enlarged it to fit the allocated space, and printed it on a backlit film.

Based on the specifications of her graphic, DSA built a custom thin light box with side access that would perfectly fit the piece of film and harmoniously illuminate it from the back. As you can see on the install video, once the light box is turned on, the artwork literally glows on the wall and has an even greater impact on the room.

Backlit illumination is a powerful way to recreate a feeling of natural light and invite contemplation by highlighting all the vibrant colors of the art piece. When illuminating art from the back, you create an even and harmonious illumination without any dark spots or light reflections that would disturb the original intent of the graphic.

Custom Side Access Light Box Features:

  • Graphic size: 42″ X 72″
  • Outside dimension: 42-3/8″ X 72-3/8″ (+/- 1/8″)
  • Visual opening: 41-1/4″ X 71-1/4″
  • Depth: 2-3/4″
  • Durable anodized silver construction, elegant and minimalist frame
  • Landscape orientation
  • Hinge on top
  • 7/8″ KO with pigtail exit back near center
  • White/clear acrylic glass
  • LED backlit strips
  • Dimmable drivers

For more information about this light box, visit the Side Access Light Box product page.

The Benefits of Art in Healthcare

Over the past two decades, it has become more commonplace for healthcare facilities to commission artists for custom artwork designed around the types of patients they serve and the experience they hope to provide to customers.

According to CODAworx, a platform that connects businesses and organizations with creative talent for artwork projects, art is typically used in healthcare to:

  • Beautify, activate, and transform spaces
  • Celebrate local culture
  • Welcome and attract visitors
  • Commemorate or inspire
  • Bring healing or help others experience it

To achieve the goals of a hospital or healthcare facility, artists experiment with various mediums—glass, metal, printed acrylic, ceramics, etc.—and various displays—interactive games, video, aerial lifts, or light boxes.

Studies and personal anecdotes have shown that artwork has unique benefits for patients, their families, but also for the healthcare facility’s staff.

A 2009 State of the Field Report on Arts in Healthcare conducted by Americans for the Arts found that art helps:

  • Ease anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Improve communication and patient-staff relationships
  • Create positive associations with the healthcare experience

For patients specifically, viewing artwork, interacting with art, and creating art can support healing and recovery from illnesses, improve quality of life, and maintain health and well-being.

Have any questions?

Light boxes can elegantly frame and illuminate your art and have many benefits compared to traditional light fixtures. Whether you’re installing art in a poorly lit room or want to maintain the integrity of the colors in your painting, we have a solution for you.

Contact us to get your art project started or explore our standard light box options from our website.