BY KELLY BREWER, WITH BETH PRIDE
“I went to Chandler Hospital this week to visit “my cows.” I hadn’t seen them since they were installed as part of the incredible Arts in Healthcare UK HealthCare initiative of which I’m humbled and honored to be a small part. This article tells more of the story, and this one really strikes a chord with me.”
A couple of years ago University of Kentucky Healthcare called me to commission two large cow paintings for the new UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Without hesitation I agreed to paint (my comfort food) for the hospital. I was happy to be asked, but I’m not sure at the time I understood the full significance of the work.
Today I am humbled and honored to be a small part of an amazing collection of “healing arts.”
The art collection at Chandler is both visually impressive and emotionally evocative. There are artists from all over the world, including a strong showing of Kentucky artists from all over the state. Everywhere you walk there is something interesting to see and enjoy, artwork that takes your mind and your heart on a journey as you move to your destination.
Just this week, I fought the Nicholasville road traffic and took a trip to Chandler Hospital. A little frazzled, I made my way to the 10th floor where my cows are installed in two
separate consultation rooms. On the way to my destination, I passed a folk art multi-media installation called “Star of Hope” by New Mexico artist Madison Cawein. Seated beneath was a family huddled up, smiling and laughing together.
Across the walk en route to the elevator is a large atrium with natural light from a sun-lit, glass ceiling. Filling the space is a geometric steel and green canvas sculpture that looks like the stages of a kite’s flight. It is another visual statement of hope.
Moving along, there is a golden mosaic that fills the elevator vestibule called, “Sunny Side, 20II,” a Guy Kemper (Versailles) piece fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich. Up and off the elevator, I step to the 10th floor where I encounter a wall-sized, floral painting with calming white and lavender. There is a contemporary piece just down the hall, a friendly fawn. Everywhere I turn, I am greeted with warm, beautiful, feel-good “healing” art.
My heart is full as I enter one of the two consultation rooms where my cows “hang out.” The first one is called “Gather Round” and is the only work of art hanging on the wall above some chairs and a desk with a computer and telephone. I can’t help but notice the boxes of tissues scattered about the room where people sit and wait for news. My cows
keep them company. They look at my cows, and my cows look right back at them. I can only hope they tell them what they want to hear. If not, then I hope they can provide a little bit of comfort. That’s what they are there for after all.
UK Arts in Healthcare, through private funds, is committed to the arts. They commission local, national, and international visual arts and they provide performing arts from faculty, staff, volunteers and the world stage. They use therapeutic arts in the clinical setting to contribute to healing. I felt it as I walked through the lobby and up to the 10th floor. My rush hour traffic anxiety adjusted with every piece I experienced, from Ellen Glasgow’s (Frankfort, KY) “Field of Purple” to Thornton Dial’s (Bessemer, AL) “Hope and Freedom Struggle.” I found myself walking around a hospital with a museum-caliber calm.
I feel grateful to all the private donors who made UK Arts in Healthcare a reality for the thousands of patients and families who walk the halls, ride the elevators, and sit for consultation. My quick journey through Chandler hospital made me see how healing comes in many forms. If my artwork contributes in some small way, then I’m grateful for that too.
This article also appears on page 5 of the February 1, 2018 print edition of Ace.
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