Art with the Power To Heal

Art with the Power to Heal

We’d like to introduce you to just a few of the talented people who have lent their creativity to the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative’s healing environment. The intersection of their crafts will delight, soothe and inspire for decades to come.

Designing for Healing

cancer center architect

Josh Kolberg, Project Architect, PKA Architects

Josh Kolberg, architecture

Josh Kolberg, of PKA Architects, was the project architect on the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative. He led a team of 10 and worked with several contractors to design the light-filled spaces of the new center.

Thoughtful details

Kolberg says being a good architect requires listening carefully and collaborating with people, teams and organizations to transfer their vision into reality. At CMH, that vision is all about patients and what will create the best experience for them.

“The most important part of the design was providing the best view of the Columbia River for the medical oncology infusion patients, who are sometimes receiving treatments for multiple hours at a time,” he says. “That space, on the second floor facing north, is the highlight of the patient care experience.”

Enhancing teamwork

“Much care was taken with staff, administration, patient advocates and the Planetree team to design the infusion space in a way that will maximize operational efficiency, access to views and comfort for patients,” he says.

Team members also designed spaces, including a wall in the infusion center to display handcrafted clay mugs that are given to cancer patients when they complete treatment.

Kolberg says that he hopes his work helps “the great physicians, nurses and medical assistants (among many others) who tirelessly work in the building to help people…do their work in the best way possible.”

The design team has remained focused on creating a healing environment for people being treated for cancer. “The truly great thing about working with CMH on this project is the people and relationships that have developed and the strong mission and focus of the CMH leadership for this project,” Kolberg says.


Henk Pander, oil paint

healing art in healthcare

Henk Pander, artist

Painter Henk Pander all is too familiar with cancer.

“Quite a number of people that I have been close to have passed away of cancer, including my beloved wife, Delores, who I took care of during her dying days,” Pander says. “It is a horrible disease that has occurred frequently throughout my extended family.”

Drawn from nature

He is making a large oil painting (about 54 by 81 inches) for the CMH–OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative. Guided by research on the soothing effect that natural scenes have on people in healthcare settings, Pander says, “It is my intent to paint a light-filled, expansive landscape—likely in the Northwest—which intersects with a still life that is rich, colorful and aesthetically pleasing.”

Pander’s work is rich in metaphor and detail. He is considered one of Oregon’s most treasured artists and was awarded the Oregon Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2005.

Pander was born in the Netherlands. He trained at Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie before immigrating to the U.S. with his first wife in the mid-1960s. He now lives in Portland.

“I am very pleased and honored to do a painting for the Cancer Collaborative,” Pander says.

Personal Landscapes

Drea Rose Frost, mixed media

cancer center artist

Drea Rose Frost, artist

Cannon Beach artist Drea Rose Frost knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis.

“I found that the curated artwork within the walls of the hospital elicited positive feelings for me and allowed moments of respite from the difficulties I was facing,” Frost says.

When a close family member was diagnosed with cancer, she again found comfort in art. “As a family member of a cancer patient, there is always so much waiting involved,” she says. “Being able to walk the halls and look at artwork, once again, allowed moments of peace in an otherwise difficult situation.”

Calm reflection

In 2016, Frost was awarded the Royal Nebeker Scholarship in the Arts and a Cannon Beach artist grant.

For the CMH–OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative, Frost is creating an abstracted seascape. “Studies have proven that blues and greens have calming effects on the viewer, possibly reducing pain and anxiety,” she says. “I am a firm believer in the ways that art has the power to heal—it starts by feeding the mind and the soul.

“My hope is that my artwork will allow patients to find something beautiful within the painting. Perhaps it will evoke a sense of calm, act as a positive distraction or create an opportunity to peacefully reflect.”


Richard Rowland, clay and fire

healing sculpture in healthcare

Richard Rowland, ceramicist

Ceramicist Richard Rowland’s work for the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative has been inspired by our community, his teachers and loved ones, particularly his mother, who went through chemotherapy before she passed away. He is also inspired by the raw materials he works with and their ability to heal.

Creating generosity

At the Astoria Dragon Kiln, Rowland is creating a massive ceramic mural of a plane tree that will become a focal point of the Cancer Collaborative’s healing garden.

“I have been thinking about how we can create a feeling of generosity, hope and connectedness for generations of families that will pass by and touch this symbolic tree and feel its expression of a caring community through holistic healing and natural materials,” Rowland says. “I have been thinking about the cycle of life experiences we all get to share.”

Rowland often speaks of human and ecological community when talking about the kiln and the beautiful ceramics that it creates. A firing lasts several days, and keeping it stoked requires a great community effort. Each contribution changes the end result.

“I work this way because I want to create feelings of empathy, growth and a deep-rooted sense of community,” Rowland says.

Read the Summer 2017 CMH Health Compass.

Masks continue to be required at CMH for patients, caregivers, and visitors.Learn More