Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Florida Skies Preview (Hospital Art Installations, Pt. 1)

The theme for the project I'm currently working on is "Florida Skies" and it's really quite rad. It involves multiple stages, various facets and all kinds of interesting challenges.  In other words, its good work!  Thank you Shands Healthcare for being awesome to work for, even when I'm not on site anymore.

As *part* of the project, these little guys will be greeting you at the entrance to the new Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care unit.  The installation method is going to be unique to say the least.  I get to oversee it, kind of, from afar.  Let's just say I'm glad I won't have to be one of the guys hauling 4-ft long, irregular-shaped, 3/4" thick glass up to the 10th floor.

I'm so lucky to have met and worked with such awesome people back in Gainesville.  The director of the Arts in Medicine program, whose also has the separate job of making the hospital environment as visually warm, inviting and hope-inspiring a pace as possible, somehow saw fit not only to contract me as an Artist in Residence back in the fall of 2008, when I didn't know what the heck I was doing with my career, then to encourage me to explore all the various nooks and crannies of possibilities within that post, she's now brought me on board several times to help with environmental design aspect.  Who knew?  And yet I love it.

I know the work I'm doing for this project isn't conceptually deep.  I could write a thesis on the distinctions between High Art and art as approachable commodity, all the interesting levels in between, and the appropriateness of each in various settings.  But I have to assume it's somewhat obvious in this context.  The psychological aspect is the setting itself, where certain imagery that feels safe and comforting--and is universal, might actually improve the overall experience, even if only subconsciously and only slightly, of, say, a kid whose sibling is about to undergo open heart surgery that they can barely understand.

I love that the theme for this unit is birds and suns and clouds and things that fly.  It's tempting to say that I got that proverbial, elusive creative job where the sky, literally, is the limit.  As in, I'm limited to things that are in the sky.  But it's a good place to be (provided you're not afraid of heights...) After getting the layout of the unit and the locations where my images would be installed, I came up with some vague idea about a baby bird, looking out wistfully over the edge of the nest, at the adjacent wall where the adult birds are flying in graceful swooping arcs.  Is he dreaming of his own potential?  Is he the child in the hospital?  Is he the helpless parent or the determined caregiver? Is he the embodiment of hope itself?  That's about as deep as it will get, but in this particular context, I think that'll do.

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