Where art meets health

Published 5:05 pm Saturday, June 19, 2010

While we might subconsciously realize that decorations and the environment we’re in can affect the way we feel, it isn’t a subject usually given much thought.

Nancy Noyes, however, has literally made an art of it.

Noyes is the president of Noyes Art Designs, which decorates Sentara Healthcare facilities and other health care buildings. She adheres to what is known as the constructive healing cycle, which connects the five elements to create a balanced environment.

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“I coined the phrase constructive healing cycle,” Noyes said. “It’s the theory that by combining fire, metal, water, earth and wood you can create a relaxed and balanced environment. Water feeds wood, wood creates fire, fire’s ash enriches the earth, earth compresses to make metal and metal holds water. If you look at those elements and how they go in a cycle, that is what I try to reflect.”

Each element has a shape, color or material that can represent the element.

Fire is represented by an orange-red color, a pointed shape and plastic materials.

Metal can be symbolized by any color metals come in — from bronze to pewter — a metal material and an oval shape.

Blue or black is the color of water and is represented by a wavy shape and glass or water materials.

Clay, horizontal shapes and brown or yellow represent earth, and wood or paper, a vertical shape or green color can be symbolic of wood.

“These elements in the perfect configuration bring the same balance, support and harmony to our lives as they do in our physical world,” states Noyes’ website. “Certain shapes, colors, and meanings represent each element.”

Noyes has been doing health care art design for 32 years. Her idea originated after a little work in the field.

“There are common sense rules like not putting red in cardiology or yellow in a geriatric [ward] because older people can no longer see the color,” Noyes said. “It was one of those things that you just don’t think about at first, but I knew there was something to it.”

“When you have that balance it creates harmony,” Noyes said. “If you have that harmony surrounding you it can replace the anxiety you might feel coming into a doctor’s office.”