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Helena Keeffe collaborating with Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center
Award: $35,000 Visual Arts Grant awarded in 2007
Completed: Spring 2009

Artist Helena Keeffe engaged long-term patients at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center (LHH) in a series of drawing and printmaking workshops that resulted in pillowcases  and hospital scrubs designed by residents for use in the LHH facility. LHH’s long-term residents have little influence on the aesthetics of their surroundings and Keeffe wanted to help change this relationship.

Using photographs, objects, and group reflections on hospital life for inspiration, the residents explored their interpretation of their environment using the basic drawing and printmaking skills. Their designs were turned into patterns with the assistance of a professional textile designer. “Drawn Together” resulted in three distinct designs and color patterns.The completed works were unveiled at a party and fashion show and made available to LHH staff and to the public through the hospital gift shop.

Prior to this project, Keeffe’s work had worked in collaboration with people in a variety of communities, reflecting her interest in creating situations and exchanges and in encouraging vulnerability and intimacy where one might otherwise expect a formal authority. Many of her projects explored ideas of generosity and economies of exchange that function outside standard economic models.

As part of the City of San Francisco Department of Public Health safety net, the mission of LHH is to provide high-quality, culturally competent rehabilitation and skilled nursing services to the diverse population of San Francisco. Often it is a hospital of last resort for people who do not have family to care for them. It has been a part of the San Francisco community since its origins as an almshouse in 1866.