Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walking The Labyrinth - Part Three - Hospital Art

With Parents who had children later in life, and being from a large family, from an early age hospital visits were normal for my sister and me.  When we were little, we spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and gift shops.  We read book after book, colored like crazy, watched the candy-stripers with interest, and were fascinated by the tiny cans of Campbell's Soup that they served at South Side Hospital in Pittsburgh.

As my parents aged, a good portion of our life was also spent at various hospitals.  Through the years, we began to notice a shift in the artwork that was featured in the halls of hospitals everywhere.  Early days found blueprints of facilities, formal portraits of middle aged white men, photos of ribbon cuttings, and award plaques aplenty.  These were replaced with generic prints, and eventually original artwork and art installations.

At Saint Francis Hospital in New Castle, after numerous visits, my sister shared that she was captivated by one of the drawings in the hall.  It was a limited edition pencil sketch of Mother Theresa.  The Internet was in its infancy at the time, and I used it to track down the Boardman, Ohio Artist, Phyllis Beard.  I contacted her; she invited me to her home studio; and I purchased one of the prints for my sister.  Phyllis was lovely!  Visiting her gave me my first glimpse at a "real" artist's studio, and she generously shared several other pieces with me during our time together.  

At First Health of The Carolinas, our regional hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina, there is a limited but lovely selection of original art.  In the lobby of The Cancer Center, one particular piece draws me back again and again each time that I visit.  This piece provided comfort and hope as Ken was recovering from his heart attack at a mere 38 years old, and it continues to touch my heart as we return with my Mother for various reasons.

Each time I approach this masterpiece, I first take in its full scope.  It's a huge piece, filling the best part of an entire wall.

From Mountain to Sea, it encompasses the beauty of Nature in North Carolina.

As I draw near, I pause for a moment of gratitude for the artists who created it, and the folks who had the foresight to install it in its perfect place.

I step back, and admire the piece section by section. 

Then I pause at its center, and look both ways.  For some reason, I don't like to begin this Labyrinth walk of mine in the company of others.  Once I've begun, company doesn't seem to bother me.  When the coast is clear, I begin to walk this Labyrinth with my finger, first from the outside in, with a pause in its center for a brief prayer.  Then I walk it from the inside out in quiet reflection.

My walk complete, I spend a few minutes with the tiny details of this piece that often go unnoticed, and I resolve to do the same more often in my daily life.

Inevitably I leave this Labyrinth a little more peaceful, a little more centered, and better for the experience.

One more installment of my Labyrinth Series will follow soon.


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