ArtPrize Artist’s Work Featured in Hospitals for ‘Calming Effect’  

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Cheryl Haithco understands the calming effect artwork can have in a medical setting. She remembers accompanying her uncle to the Cleveland Clinic for some testing and being struck by the artwork along the corridors.
Years later, when she decided to pursue her art full time, she was honored when hospitals asked if her work could hang in their hallways.
For three years, her paintings were on display inside a number of Beaumont Hospitals.
“There’s a need for people when they’re walking through a hospital to have a calming effect,” said Haithco.
So it’s appropriate her first ArtPrize entry will be installed at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan office at the Steketee’s Building, 86 Monroe Center St. NW, in downtown Grand Rapids. She is one of two artists being featured by BCBSM. 

Family moment

Her entry includes a painting titled “In Harmony” and “Cousins Embrace” based on a photo Haithco took. It features her now 14-year-old niece as a 2-year-old hugging her cousins shortly after her mother – Haithco’s sister – died of cancer. Haithco began caring for her niece five years ago.
Haithco’s sister, who died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was diagnosed when she was pregnant.
“She actually went through chemo during her pregnancy,” said Haithco, adding that her sister moved back home from out of state so her family could care for her during treatment. “I believe everything happens for a reason, because at the same time she came here, my position at the Y as development person had been eliminated. So if that hadn’t happened, I would not have been able to spend the time that I did with her before she passed.”
Since her sister’s death, Haithco has helped raise money for the American Cancer Society as a volunteer, often sharing her sister’s story to raise awareness about the need to raise research funds to eradicate cancer. 

Career detour

Haithco worked for nonprofits for about 20 years before becoming a full-time artist five years ago. Her passion for art began as a child, but she regrets listening to a high school teacher who told her she would never make a living as an artist. Despite majoring in art in college, she ultimately earned a marketing degree. She went on to raise two children and have a successful career in the nonprofit sector, ultimately becoming Vice President of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit.
“In 2017, I just decided it was time for me to do what I really enjoyed doing, which is painting and drawing,” Haithco said. “I’ve worked in a number of mediums from bronze sculptures to watercolors to oil painting, but right now my concentration is solely on acrylic painting.”
She enjoys working with acrylics because she can create the same vibrancy as oils but with a quicker drying time. Her current work concentrates mostly on florals, landscapes and portraits.
Haithco wants her art to evoke positive emotions.
“When I’m finished with a painting, I will hang it up on the wall in my family room and sit on the couch across from it. That’ll help me determine if I’m really finished with it, because it has to make me feel a certain way. It has to make you forget about what’s bothering you, encouraging you to think deeply about calming thoughts and treasuring the moment.”
ArtPrize is happening in downtown Grand Rapids September 15-October 2.
Photo credit: Cheryl Haithco

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