Meet the Artists
The Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program promotes a holistic approach to healthcare for patients, caregivers, medical staff and visitors through the use of music, dance, expressive writing and visual arts. Professional artists-in-residence work in patient rooms, clinics, waiting rooms, hallways and conference spaces of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, helping to create an environment of healing and resilience.
From “brightening the day”, to easing anxiety, creating a calming sonic space, facilitating falling asleep to even easing transitioning, the silver strings of Karen Ashbrook’s hammered dulcimer music heal. Karen is a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP) through the Music for Healing and Transitions Program (mhtp.org) which is accredited through the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians (nsbtm.org). CMPs are trained to create a healing sonic environment playing at the bedside for patients in different conditions. Karen brings over 40 years of experience playing traditional folk music and living all over the world to connect with patients, staff and visitors on a deep level, beyond words with the universal language of music. The music, neutralizes the electronic sounds and humanizes the hospital. “You made my day!” is a frequent comment she receives. Karen can be found playing soothing music in Lombardi, Pre and Post Surgery, NICU, Transfusion, Dialysis and in patients’ room in Critical Care and Bles – in short – all over the hospital!
Michelle, a writer who discovered the benefits of writing over thirty years ago when she had breast cancer, came to Lombardi in 2009. Nancy Morgan, the Director of the Arts and Humanities Program at the time, trained Michelle in expressive writing. Michelle then combined this training with her other love: mix media arts. In her effort to promote the benefits of writing and self-care, Michelle leads workshops in which staff make journals or cards using a whole range a mix media materials. When the staff makes cards, Michelle asks each participant to write an encouraging note to him/herself and address an envelope with his/her address. Michelle mails them at a later date. Staff report being surprised and pleased by the notes from their earlier selves. Additionally, during her travels, Michelle discovered Beglaris, a modern form of worry beads, which she makes with patients in the Lomabrdi waiting room – they have become a huge success. Patients and caregivers enjoy choosing from a wide variety of beads, the color of the string, and then stringing the beads themselves. Once they return to their seats, they can be seen fingering their beads while reading the meditation and information sheet they are also given. Patients have reported that the beads have reduced their stress and have brought them a great deal of joy.
Jennifer Wilkin Penick
The AHP team is thrilled to have Jennifer Wilkin Penick as our newest visual artist-in-residence. Since May 2018, Jennifer has been working at the back table in the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Clinic (LCCC) bringing artcard making and other art projects to patients, caregivers, medical staff, and visitors. Jennifer studied studio art in Portland, Oregon, before receiving an MA in Italian art history from the University of Washington. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty-five years before moving to Virginia in 2001. Her small-format collage and mixed-media works explore themes of history, art history, collecting, and natural history. Jennifer’s works often use vintage European paper, photographs, maps, and engravings. She has exhibited her works in Rome, Portland, and Arlington.
In August 2018, Dance Place Director Emerita, Deborah Riley, joined the AHP. As a life long dance professional, Deborah is recognized for exploring themes of health and well being through her workshops and choreography. In post retirement, she’s pleased to continue this focus with AHP, as well as being an artist and board member with Arts for the Aging and Dance Exchange. Riley is a life-long dance artist and more recent practitioner of Laban Movement Analysis. As a touring artist and educator, she has performed throughout Europe and the US, as well as choreographed over 40 original works for her company: Deborah Riley Dance Projects. She was an artist-in-residence at DC’s Dance Place beginning in 1988 and retired as Co-Director in 2017. In 2016, she was honored with the Pola Nirenska Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. As an AHP artist-in-residence, Riley leads stretch breaks and noontime yoga on Mondays. In addition, Riley is the new lead teacher of Movement for MS program of the AHP/Department of Neurology, and assisted by AHP movement artist, Alison Waldman. Although she is new to the team, the MGUH community has already benefited from Riley’s dance and movement expertise.
As a certified therapeutic musician, Miriam has played her harp at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH) for eight years. At MGUH, she plays for patients in the Lombardi Outpatient Clinic as they wait to see their doctors and also while they receive chemotherapy. Additionally, Miriam plays for the NICU, and patients in palliative care throughout the hospital. Her career as a harpist has taken her from concert stage to hospital rooms, from orchestras and musical ensembles to neo-natal units and chemotherapy infusion areas. It is while playing in hospital settings that she feels a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. When she encounter people in vulnerable situations, anxious to hear a good word from their doctors, or worried when outcomes are not what they expected, she uses her harp and her music as a way to create a calming space. Miriam invites people to enter this space, and surround themselves with music, and feel, for a brief moment, that they can cope with life’s unexpected turns. Her music, and the arts in general, allow patients to release emotions and divert their focus from their physical ailments, so that they can find ways to cope and find strength and hope in the creative process.
Katie Harris Banks
Katie is an experienced registered yoga teacher with 16 years of teaching experience teaching group classes and private lessons. In her teaching, Katie strives to create a practice that is safe, yet playful and challenging. Katie’s style is influenced by the flow and vigor of Ashtanga, the alignment and precision of Iyengar, and her skilled knowledge of the body from a dancer’s perspective (Katie is also a professional modern dancer, dance teacher and choreographer). In addition to strengthening, stabilizing and increasing flexibility, her classes and stretch breaks focus on finding a kinesthetic awareness of one’s own body, stress relief and creating an enjoyable and sustainable practice to promote general well-being. Katie takes a light hearted, yet sincere approach in her teaching and hopes to inspire people to enjoy movement and the benefits it can bring to daily life.
Carrie Monger is both a professional dancer and Licensed Professional Counselor with a M.Ed in Counseling.This unique combination of skills makes her a great Movement Artist-in-Residence with the Arts and Humanities Program. In May 2019, Carrie began providing streatch breaks for staff members throughout MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and has been a wonderful addition to the AHP team. Carrie has performed as a professional dancer for Jane Franklin Dance, K2 Dance, BosmaDance, Dance Place, and more.
Anthony Hyatt is a violinist and multimedia teaching artist who works with many health care and senior service providers in the Washington DC area. His longest affiliation, since 1997, is with the nonprofit Arts for the Aging organization under whose auspices he leads creative engagement programs at adult care facilities and for whom he co-directs the Quicksilver senior citizen improvisational dance company. He has co-led teaching artist training programs for the National Center for Creative Aging and other organizations. Anthony is an artist-in-residence for the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s pediatric, cancer and palliative care programs. He also is co-teacher of the weekly Dance for PD® class that is offered at the IONA Senior Services center. Anthony is honored to be a colleague of the USA based Creative Education Foundation and a leader for other affiliated international organizations like CREA in Europe and Mindcamp in Canada. He does additional creativity consulting and facilitation work through his own organization: Moving Beauty.
Lauren Kingsland provides hands-on creative engagement projects and mindfulness activities to patients, caregivers and hospital staff to help cope with the stresses and transformations of serious illness. Her goal is always to see the patient as a whole person, not as a diagnosis. At bedside or at her table in the clinic, Lauren uses beaded bracelets, prayer flags, origami cranes, sewing, quilts, crocheting, and more activities as tools for connection and feelings of accomplishment. She offers guided meditation to promote deep relaxation and therapeutic hand massage when a human touch is needed. Whatever the activity the goal is to provide an opportunity to sit together long enough for conversation and human connection to develop naturally. Lauren holds a Masters degree in Applied Healing Arts from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a renowned quilt artist and teacher of fiber arts. She has also been known to burst into song from time to time.
Matt Peroutka has a passion for playing guitars, and he has been playing them for more than 50 years. Matt brings his therapeutic music to patients’ bedsides and various public areas throughout Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. He is a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP)–a certification given by the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP). He also serves MHTP as a faculty member, traveling the country training musicians in the art and science of providing therapeutic music for body, mind, and spirit. Matt’s music focuses on his patients, bringing them in-the-moment emotional, spiritual, and mental comfort—simply by being in the presence of the music.
Martha is a Certified Music Practitioner through the Music of Healing and Transition Program, which teaches guidelines for prescriptive repertoire for the chronically ill, acutely ill, elderly and actively dying. As a musician and visiting artist with the Arts and Humanities Program, Martha plays acoustic cello music for individual patients in their rooms and in specialty units (Chemo Infusion, Lombardi clinic, Radiation Oncology, PACU, Dialysis, NICU and wherever needed) within the hospital. Her music is a service for patients, with the emphasis on the patient’s condition and needs. It is the patient’s option to agree to hear the music or not, giving them something over which they have control. It is the combination of sound and vibration when played by an experienced therapeutic musician that creates the difference in emotional and physical well-being of the patient, whether to calm, stabilize blood pressure and heart rate, relieve anxiety, or create a tranquil atmosphere. Martha is able to revise the music as the mood and condition of the patient change. This is one of the benefits of live music vs. recorded music. The music can create a distraction from the medical situation for the patient, bringing relaxation and diminishing stress; also going beyond the patient’s needs and being heard in the environs of the room and unit by visitors and hospital staff, resulting in a calmer scenario for all.
Claire Wagner is known throughout MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as “the Knitter” because she can solve any problem that involves yarn or thread. Claire has worked in the hospital for many years with patients, and staff. She holds a weekly clinic in the Arts and Humanities office.
Alison Waldman (RYT-200), Resident Movement Artist, is a yoga teacher, wellness break leader, and mindfulness guide for staff and patients at MGUH. She is certified in Accessible Yoga and is a longtime facilitator of movement for wellness in workplace, healthcare, and faith communities in the Washington, D.C. area. Alison leads stretch breaks and yoga classes for hospital staff and guided imagery sessions for patients and caregivers. Her sessions focus on making space for self-care, kindness, and joy in the hospital experience. Alison is also the director of the annual Day of Dance, a unique mobile dance performance at MGUH that engages the entire hospital community through dance and music, and the co-lead of the Movement for MS community dance class in collaboration with the Department of Neurology.
Pure, simple and endearing, Tamara’s voice can be convincing in almost in genre of music from gospel to dance. She has had a profoundly diverse career as a performer and a recording artist that she shares whole-heartedly with the MedStar Georgetown hospital community through the Arts and Humanities Program at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. I love singing one to one in the rooms and connecting with patients. To me, it’s a sacred exchange of gratitude and emotional wellness.
The professional musicians, dancers, expressive writers and visual artists currently work only a few hours per week due to program budgetary constraints. Through your generous support, the artist of your choice will be able to spend more time servicing the community at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH). Please consider donating to the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program to support artists-in-residences and their work throughout MGUH.