The ‘Art’ of Healing: Annual Employee Photography Display

Annual Photography Display at Packard Children's

Whether walking through one of the whimsical gardens, finding refuge in one of the 27 courtyards that Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has to offer, or walking down one of the long hallways of the hospital lined with art, you are able to encounter nature all around you. Sculptures, paintings, photographs and an interactive wall found inside Packard Children’s bring vibrant color and a sense of novelty, curiosity and exploration of nature to the space of the building. Most of these pieces have been handpicked and crafted by our very own art curator, Antonia Dapena-Tretter. Dapena-Tretter says that, according to studies, “nature generally correlates to stronger healing,” which was made top of mind during the planning phases of the Main Building and the expansion of the West Building in 2017, and it continues to be as new art is added to the hospital. 

Healing through art has been Dapena-Tretter’s focul point since she began her career as an art curator. Over the years, working in the art industry, she has developed a “passion for arts and healing,” and within three months of joining the team at Packard Children’s, she has been helping healing to happen all around the hospital. “For our patients, part of the mission [behind the art] is three different journeys: mind, body and spirit.” When choosing and installing a new piece of art in the hospital, she first thinks about how the piece is going to make the patient and family feel when they interact with it—that is the journey of the mind. The journey of the body consists of taking into consideration how the viewer will engage with the piece. For example, when you move through the garden or you engage with the digital interactive wall in the Story Corner of the hospital, you are embarking on the journey of the body. Finally, art pieces such as Joie de Vivre and the acoustical wall displayed in the Sanctuary engage the journey of the spirit. “Art stimulates and engages the patients and their families on their journey with us,” says Dapena-Tretter. The care of patients and families is at the forefront of our mission at Packard Children’s, and she chooses and installs pieces that foster healing and comfort. 

“Having beauty and art around you helps with personal resilience,” Dapena-Tretter shares. Packard Children’s is dedicated to utilizing nature-focused art as a mode of healing for patients, families and employees who are all unified in their journeys. One such display that engages employees is the recently added Annual Employee Photography Display, featured on the third-floor bridge between the Main Building and the West Building. This display includes photographs from a wide variety of people on staff at Packard Children’s, all of whom are either amateur or professional photographers. In order to source photos to display, Dapena-Tretter made the selection a blind process. She sent an announcement out to all employees and received more than 300 submissions. This, as well as the outstanding quality of the photos, made the selection job of Dapena-Tretter and the Art Committee very difficult.

The Art Committee is made up of 25 people, including board members and staff members at Packard Children’s, who work with Dapena-Tretter in choosing art to display in the hospital space. She shares that there are “so many talented pieces and artists on staff” that she expanded the display to two walls in the hospital. The Annual Employee Photography Display now contains 56 photographs from staff members at Packard Children’s that are entirely nature inspired. “The photographs are a natural extension of nature. They show the curiosity and whimsy in the real world around us,” Dapena-Tretter says. Once the photos were selected, she worked her curating magic and placed the photos strategically on the wall, so that the display came together.

The photography contest is unique because our employees “get to showcase another side of themselves,” Dapena-Tretter says. One employee featured in the display was Gus “Rodriguez” Espinel, a security officer at Packard Children’s. “It was a really, really nice surprise to have my photo selected,” Espinel says. “It brought me hope that someone would be able to see the picture and feel the joy that I did taking it.” As a security officer at the hospital, Espinel plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of our families, patients and employees. He says that Packard Children’s “is a collective of people coming together to do the best job that we can. As a security officer I can see the whole process,” from admittance to care to recovery. Everyone on the team at Packard Children’s is unified in working toward the same goal: to deliver the best care to our patients and families.

Another employee who has a photograph featured in the Annual Employee Photography Display is Perla Bautista-Muench, the Outpatient Epilepsy Clinic case manager and the 2018 Hospital Hero for the annual Summer Scamper. She is a member of our team that patients and their families can rely on to guide them. Bautista-Muench coordinates care of each patient and their families —a champion of the Packard Children’s spirit. “I was really thrilled when I was selected,” she says. She took her photograph while on a hike, which is one of her favorite hobbies. “This picture brings you some joy that creates wellness inside you,” she shares. “Everyone is united with the same goal in mind, day by day. That is what makes our hospital really strong,” she says. The Annual Employee Photography Display is another opportunity to bring the hospital community together in healing.

James Gamble, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Packard Children’s, is also one of the finalists who had a photograph selected for the display. Dr. Gamble’s research has been published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics and the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, among other publications. He has been dedicated to his patients for 37 years at Packard Children’s and is also a professor of orthopedic surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Gamble’s photo was “inspired by my backyard,” he says. “I just saw the beauty of nature in these sweetgum leaves that I found. Nature is truly amazing.” 

Whether it is a photograph taken by one of our employees or a sculpture selected by Dapena-Tretter, art excites people around the hospital. From the animal- and nature-focused play structures in the garden at the center of the Main Building to the educational walls that teach about the California ecosystem, the art at Packard Children’s engages patients and families, and helps them during their journey toward healing.


3 Responses to “The ‘Art’ of Healing: Annual Employee Photography Display”

  1. Carlos Cordero

    where can I sign up to share some of my photographs.

    thanks so much for putting this together.

  2. Blanca Fuentez

    I have a grandchild who has been hospitalized here at Lucille Packard, I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed all the photos and art work displayed; it has been so inspirational and heartwarming. We would love to be a part of making families feel welcomed by donating photos taken from Monterey Bay Aquarium, these photos were taken my my nine year old granddaughter and are colorfully breathtaking. How can we share these, donate them to your hospital?

    • Julienne Jenkins

      Hi Blanca, Thank you for your kinds words. Please reach out to our Art Curator, Antonia Dapena-Tretter, who can help you with your generous offer. Her email is adapenatretter [at] Best wishes to you and your family.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)