CPAM Spotlights

Featuring CPAM Employees and Programming

Bloom: Art, Flowers, and Employee Enrichment

By Stephi Cham | July 2023

Drawings of Texas flowers on pillars decorated with green background at Houston Methodist crosswalk windows facing Fannin St.

Melissa Aytenfisu, employee arts enrichment specialist for the Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM), plays a key role in bringing the arts to Houston Methodist employees.

“Working in a health care environment has unique challenges and experiences for our employees,” says Shay Thornton Kulha, CPAM’s operations manager. “Our goal is to utilize the arts to build programs that allow employees to reflect on their unique experiences, to learn something new, to engage with their colleagues and to really utilize the arts as a tool to better themselves and better who they’re able to bring to work every single day.”

Enter Melissa, who started the Bloom project soon after she joined CPAM. Bloom, an artmaking process and artwork installation, has provided opportunities for employees to create, share and take in art.

Melissa and CPAM invited employees to participate with the hope of encouraging creativity and promoting a sense of fulfillment, enjoyment, and relaxation. To include as many employees as possible, Melissa hosted a drop-in Bloom class in the Crain Garden lobby and facilitated Bloom Drawing Stations at various times and dates so both day-shift and night-shift staff could participate.

Approximately fifteen employees making art at tables set up at Houston Methodist Crain Garden beside elevators
five Houston Methodist employees, all women, standing in front of grassy backdrop at a booth with mental health resources

Melissa also worked with CPAM’s creative arts therapists to coordinate and facilitate opportunities on units in employee break rooms and conference rooms.

“This was probably the best way to collect images for the project,” Melissa says. “It gave employees a chance to let go of the rigors of healthcare work for even ten minutes or thirty minutes and just immerse themselves in being creative.”

The collaborative creation process provided employees chances to connect with art, with others, with nature, and with themselves.

“We want to support you in all aspects of your life,” says Tom Vernon, CPAM executive sponsor. “We’re engaging our people to express the artistic side of them and help them relate to how it impacts them and others… It’s groundbreaking, and I think it is incredibly impactful.”

White woman with brown hair selfie pointing at hand-drawn/watercolored picture of Bluebonnet

The artwork, created by employees, features Texas native flowers drawn with color pencils and painted over with water to create watercolor images. Melissa chose the theme because she found flowers both aesthetically pleasing and easy for employees to draw.

“It would be beautiful,” she thought, “to fill up the hallway with flowers, to immerse yourself in nature.”

Employees have stopped by to view and take photos with their own artwork, sometimes joined or supported by their colleagues and loved ones. The project will remain on display through August, with plans for next year already in progress.

Asian woman in mask smiling and pointing at two instances of her artwork depicting pink flowers on pillars