Healing Art Garden Dedicated by The Helis Foundation Creating space for rest, repose and rehabilitation at the new Neuroscience Institute By Anne Paglia | Photo: Ochsner Archives
Nature and art can be powerful tools for healing. An abundance of research has shown that exposure to nature and experiences centered on art can improve well-being and combat mental health issues like depression, stress and anxiety. For people living with neurological disorders and undergoing difficult treatments, the healing power of nature has the potential to be even more potent. Thanks to a generous $250,000 donation from The Helis Foundation, a healing art garden will be created in the courtyard of the new Ochsner Neuroscience Institute. Combining natural and artistic elements—including a water feature, walking path and sculptural art—the healing art garden will provide a soothing outdoor experience for patients and their families. With different ground gradients and textures, the garden will double as a place for recovering patients to practice their mobility skills. “The idea is that by creating a place of repose in a beautiful setting, with beautiful art, we will help improve the emotional state, and thereby the physical state, of people who are undergoing medical treatment and provide comfort to their families,” said David Kerstein, President of The Helis Foundation. When Ochsner ﬁrst approached The Helis Foundation with plans to build the garden, the project struck David as a natural ﬁt. As the primary arts benefactor in New Orleans, The Helis Foundation
allocates resources to public arts projects across the city, as well as funds for general community-oriented projects in the region. “We are highly engaged in the arts, particularly sculptural arts, so there was a natural alignment of one of our missions with the healing art garden,” David said. The Helis Foundation’s contributions to the New Orleans metropolitan area include the Poydras Corridor Sculpture
Exhibition, a rotating installation of 40 sculptures by local and international artists, and The Helis Foundation Enrique Alferéz Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Botanical Garden. The foundation also provides free admittance to leading art museums in the city for Louisiana residents through a program called Art For All. For Ochsner patients and their families, free and accessible art can make a world of difference.
Mrs. William G. Helis presents a check to Alton Ochsner for $250,000 payable to the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation. Behind them, left to right, are Richard Freeman; Dr. Robert Bernhard, trustee of The Helis Foundation; William G. Helis, Jr., trustee of The Helis Foundation; and J. Blanc Monroe.