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Fine art is good medicine: Summa opens art gallery

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2020 edition of Promise magazine.

A hospital may seem like an unusual place for an art gallery, but not for Summa Health, which is sometimes referred to as “Akron’s second-largest art museum.”

Upon entering the new patient tower, one can immediately see that Summa surrounds its patients with the healing power of the arts — from the 20-foot-tall Stephen Canneto sculpture welcoming visitors at the front door to the signature Diana al-Hadid piece accenting the two-story main lobby. 

“We recognize that the arts can enhance the healing process, speed recovery time and enrich the patient’s overall experience,” said Cliff Deveny, M.D., Summa Health president and chief executive officer. 

From the nurse who stops by a painting to reflect about her day to the patient passing by an abstract work in glass following outpatient surgery, Summa’s collection is a source of inspiration and relaxation for patients, their families, visitors and caregivers.

With the new patient tower on the Akron Campus providing a blank canvas in 2019, the Summa Health Healing Arts Leadership Council took the lead in commissioning and acquiring art with the help of dedicated benefactors and volunteer leaders.

More than 90 original works are on display in various mediums created by more than 53 featured artists — all with ties to Northeast Ohio. By simply placing a cell phone camera in front of a QR code label provided for every piece of art, one is connected to its story.

The curatorial committee of the Summa Health Healing Arts Leadership Council commissioned four Ohio landscape printmakers to provide art for all 157 patient rooms. The artwork reflects nature scenes from around the region, including the Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

“Views of nature can help relax patients and encourage healing,” said curator Meg Stanton, “and if our art engages patients and takes their minds off of what they’re dealing with if only for a brief time, we have done our jobs.”

To celebrate the works of these and other artists, Summa Health opened a 1,500-square-foot art gallery in the walkway that connects the new patient tower to the rest of the campus. 

The Summa Gallery’s first exhibition, “Healing through Nature,” highlights the art of the four patient room artists — Ian Adams, Rob Blair, Wayne Mazorow and Caroline Rowntree

Rotating exhibits in the Summa Gallery will feature individual artists from the Summa Collection every quarter and, most importantly, will allow the healthcare system to collaborate with other organizations such as art schools and galleries throughout the region. 

All images in the current exhibition are available for purchase in several sizes and formats. The Healing Arts Fund receives 25 percent of all sales. To purchase a piece of art, email or call 330.375.3159.

For more information about supporting the healing arts program at Summa Health, contact Shelley Green, system director of development, at 330.375.6891 or


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