Southwestern Vermont Medical Center recently received a tremendous gift: 54 pieces of art by Vermont artists for its inpatient rooms from the Susan Sebastian Foundation. The touching story reveals the power of art, devotion, and the impact one person can make in the lives of others.
Explore the timeline below to experience the story as it unfolded:
Mid 2000s: Susan Sebastian suffered a long illness looking at the bare walls of hospital rooms and vowed to give art to hospitals for the benefit of inpatients.
2009: Susan Sebastian passed away. The Susan Sebastian Foundation was founded, with Susan’s mother Elise Braun at the helm. She hoped to fulfill her daughter’s wish by donating art to hospitals.
2010 – 2015: The Foundation learned of the work of Dr. Esther Sternberg, who has researched and proven the positive impact of art on patient experience and outcomes and began using the principles in Sternberg’s book, Healing Spaces: the Science of Place and Wellbeing, to guide their selections of artwork. The Susan Sebastian Foundation funded the purchase of art for inpatient rooms of every hospital in Vermont, except SVMC.
Fall 2015: The SVHC Foundation received a call from the Susan Sebastian Foundation offering to buy new artwork for every inpatient room at SVMC.
Spring 2016: To accept the gift, the SVHC Foundation put out a call to all Vermont artists and received 300 works, from which they juried a show of 120 pieces and invited Dr. Sternberg to present.
June 7, 2016: With the help of staff at the Southern Vermont Arts Center and many volunteers, including Sarah Lewis and Peg Daly, the SVHC Foundation hung the exhibit at the Southern Vermont Arts Center.
Leading up to the event, regional media, including Seven Days and Northeast Public Radio WAMC, covered the touching story of Susan and her dream to fill Vermont hospitals with art.
June 9: A team including Shiela Boni, Rita Dee, and Dr. Joshua Sherman chose 54 new pieces of art for SVMC’s inpatient rooms.
June 11: SVHC Foundation presented a juried exhibit of 120 pieces of artwork by Vermont artists at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester on June 11. Nearly 200 people visited the exhibit. More than 100 people stayed to listen to a presentation by Dr. Sternberg.
June 13 – 20: The Rutland Herald, Vermont Public Radio, and VTDIGGER.org, covered the inspiring story.
June 17: Having seen the mission of the Susan Sebastian Foundation fulfilled, Elise Braun passed away in Morrisville, Vermont.
In the coming weeks, the artwork will be framed and placed in inpatient rooms at SVMC.