Hotel Chicago West Loop Shows How Art Can Help Heal

CHICAGO—The Hotel Chicago West Loop and The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a rehabilitation hospital here, are tapping into the notion that art can heal and transform lives. It all began when the hotel’s general manager, Jean-Luc Laramie, searched for a way that art could give back to the community.

“We started The Annex at Hotel Chicago West Loop to bring the art community together under one roof, inside one hotel,” said Laramie. “Our goal with The Annex’s Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Showcase is to promote their art therapy programs by bringing work from their inspirational artists on view. Shirley Ryan AbilityLab uses art to help inspire patients with functional impairments during recovery.”

Laramie noted that many of the hospital’s patients have gone through a catastrophic event and making art helps them rediscover themselves again and reach past their physical limitations.

“The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), is the global leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions—from traumatic brain and spinal cord injury to stroke, amputation and cancer-related impairment,” said Laura Ferrio, chief advancement officer, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. “Our goal is to bring about better, faster recoveries for our patients through best-in-class clinical care and groundbreaking research.”

Art on display at the Hotel Chicago West Loop

“The Annex at Hotel Chicago West Loop is giving these special artists their own gallery to showcase their talent and give them a place for their art to call home,” said Laramie. “It’s the first time any sort of cultural institution—let alone a hotel—has partnered with the organization’s art therapy program to bring the patient’s artistry to exhibition.”

In addition to free tours, The Annex gallery is open to the general public as well as guests. The hotel has taken support of the program one step further by offering a promo code—Annex—on its website where 10% of total room revenue will be donated to The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

“All the artwork housed at the hotel will be up for sale to give the artists another stream of revenue during this tough time,” said Laramie.

Ferrio explained that art therapy at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab can help inspire patients during the road to recovery.

“It leverages the creative process to help improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of patients,” she said. “Individual and group sessions, led by a board-certified art therapist, promote functional independence by facilitating a mind/body connection, reducing stress and anxiety, and encouraging self-expression.”

The Annex at Hotel Chicago West Loop is giving these special artists their own gallery to showcase their talent.
The Annex at Hotel Chicago West Loop is giving these special artists their own gallery to showcase their talent.

According to Laramie, supporting a local organization was paramount and a significant part of the hotel’s ethos.

“As our name states, we are Hotel Chicago West Loop. With The Annex concept, we aim to partner with and showcase the diverse communities that make Chicago exceptional,” he said. “We believe there are many talented people in Chicago making some very inspirational and unique artwork, from street art to stills to paintings to murals, and much more. We also work with a local photographer and videographer for all of our content on our website and social media. We work with Chicago muralists for our Annex hotel rooms. It was only fitting for us to work with a Chicago institution like Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. The one consistent theme through The Annex is Chicago and its diversity. By partnering with local artists and community organizations like Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, we’re truly providing a cultural experience for our guests.”

Ferrio shared what she hoped to see happen as a result of the partnership: “Hotel Chicago West Loop hosts guests from around the country and the world,” she said. “This showcase not only spreads awareness about the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab but, even more importantly, it puts our patients’ abilities on display.”