Sarah Hinds, AIM visual artist in residence, recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, where she was a speaker and arts facilitator for the Global South Arts in Health Week. She traveled with Dr. Jill Sonke, Director of Research for the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, to the inaugural event, which aimed to advance education, research, and practice in the fields of arts in health, creative art therapies, and community-based art engagements in the Global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America). During the seven-day event, a stunning array of collaborations, community projects, cultural exchanges, and workshops took place.
Sarah has a special interest in international collaborations that advance the field of arts in health in the developing world. In 2019, she was awarded the US State Department Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Grant to work with artist Kunle Adewale in Lagos, Nigeria. When Kunle reached out to collaborate again, this time in Egypt, Sarah jumped at the opportunity.
Leading up to the trip, Sarah and the GSAHW team developed a relationship with Saudi German Hospital in Cairo. Saudi German recently installed a Hall of Art within their hospital and was interested in incorporating the arts more fully.
Sarah partnered with Cairo-based mosaic artist Amäl Akhnoukh to facilitate a community-engaged mosaic installation, a series of mosaic mandalas in Saudi German’s signature colors. Before the trip, Amäl and Sarah met multiple times to discuss design, materials, and facilitation. Sarah brought some materials along from the States, and then visited the Khan al Khalili market to source local supplies like precious stone scarabs, turquoise teardrops, and hand sculpted glass. Every part of this project was a cultural collaboration.
On September 27th, 2023, seven mosaic mandalas were created in the main lobby of Saudi German Hospital with help from patients, family members, doctors, nurses, janitors, students, and more. Amäl and Sarah finished and installed the work as part of Saudi German Hospital’s permanent collection.
Saudi German Hospital was invigorated by the idea of a hospital-based artist in residence. Sarah spent time visiting the pediatric units and conducting bedside visits much like she does here at UF Health Shands. Staff were interested and engaged by this new concept!
Sarah and Jill presented their work at the Rakhawy Institute for Training and Research, Saudi German Hospital, and Counseleya in Cairo to Egyptian audiences throughout the week, along with arts in health practitioners from around the world, and the Arts and Culture lead for the World Health Organization.
“Arts in Health in Cairo was much like it is here in Florida. If a visual arts project is facilitated with good materials, clear directions, and kindness, people are lifted by the experience. Language and cultural barriers become insignificant,” said Sarah as she reflected on her time in Cairo.
Sarah is deeply grateful for the experience, as well as the support from UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine, Global South Arts in Health Week, and Saudi German Hospital.
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