Can fine art in a healthcare setting be inspirational, purposeful, bold and intentional? Can it make a hospital feel warm, give it character, and maybe even put a smile on your face? And can the art give patients and staff a moment of diversion, distraction and stress release? Yes, was our belief and these questions became our driving force for the art program at MarinHealth.
For the last five years, we have worked collaboratively with the architect Perkins-Eastman, clinical staff, construction team and many artists to curate this 240 piece collection which includes seven interior site-specific art commissions as well as framed wall works throughout the new Oak Pavilion expansion of the original Marin General hospital.
By layering brightly colored shapes, Perutz transforms one of the oldest themes in painting, the landscape, into an almost abstract composition. Working from her visits to Marin, her paintings render nature as an experience of color. While the artist’s abstracted landscapes depict specific places, they also allow the viewer to imagine their own experience.
The artwork in this collection reinforces a humanistic healing environment tailored to the needs of patients and their caregivers. The art program at its core is purpose-driven; it serves as a key element enhancing the experience of being cared for. A broad range of artists reflect the diversity of the region and the patients the hospital serves. Artwork mediums including painting, photography, works on paper, mural painting, enamel on metal panel, and textiles all express the hand of the artist which contributes to a human-centered environment. At MarinHealth the artwork both engages and distracts, by bringing the natural world in through imagery that both represents and evokes the feeling of the natural world. Didactic wall labels allow visitors the opportunity for further exploration, distraction and discovery.
The design team emphasized their vision of where hospitality and healthcare intersect. We understood this, and responded with work that is high quality, sophisticated and also purpose driven. In the lobby level of the building, Katy Stone paints on metal and layers the elements into sculptural assemblages and installations that blur the boundaries between drawing, painting, and sculpture, acting as both kaleidoscope and microscope. This site-specific composition suggests a hillside bursting with California poppy blossoms. Stone uses an atmospheric perspective composition that gradually decreases in scale, suggesting a terrain that invites the viewer on a journey.
It was very important to us to ensure that the artwork provide a sense of the feeling of nature. The idea that the artwork might take you away for a moment, distract you and remind you of a positive feeling or memory. Mel Prest is a non-objective painter whose work is focused on color and perceptual visual relationships and synaesthetic response. She created a site-specific work of glass panels that are interpretations of the colors and scents of California wildflowers such as iris, larkspur, lavender, poppy and wild rose.
Building a site specific and unique art collection for a hospital is a complex job. The technical aspects of our role involved collaborative engagement with architects, engineers, OSHPD, contractors and the client. We led a cross functional team of stakeholders including the project manager, clinical staff, executives, and the Foundation in the development of the art program criteria and process for artwork selection. Early collaboration with the architect and interiors team was essential to ensure that art was well integrated and strategically placed. Pre-construction planning with contractors and engineers ensured proper backing and lighting would be incorporated to support and highlight the art.
Emergency rooms are high-stress places so we approached each room with artworks that emphasized a sense of warmth and familiarity. Scale and visibility were also very important, we wanted the art to be very intentional and not an afterthought.
Long corridors are typical in a hospital, so to make this one engaging, we commissioned artist Michael McConnell to create a 52 piece journey that takes the viewer from the ocean in West Marin, up Mt. Tam and into Marin through his painterly depictions of animals and landscapes from the area.
In another corridor, approximately 80′ long, we looked to West Marin artist and musician Clare Rojas to bring her unique visual language to the space. This site-specific mural is inspired by Rojas’ observance of forms in nature and continues the artist’s study of geometric abstraction. By removing the subjects from her paintings and nurturing her instinctual disposition toward certain shapes and colors, Rojas constructs an exercise of simplicity and self-reflection. The forms are elegantly balanced with bold, white negative space of which Rojas has said, “I see it, and almost hear it, like you would hear the resonance of a sound in space.”
Nurse stations are busy, high traffic and high stress areas. At MarinHealth, they are the core of each department. Art is clearly an important and purposeful component to these space.
Here, Thomas Hager uses traditional photographic processes to explore the intricate details and subtle beauty of nature. Emily Filler’s work walks the line between the real and the imaginary. There is a sense of the familiar but also the feeling that you are falling into a dream, where flowers act as a departure point to a world that dissolves into abstraction.
Marin based artist Thomas Jackson’s playful photographs feature California landscapes juxtaposed with constructed installations which utilize unexpected materials. The photographs evoke curiosity and perhaps a sense of wonder. It’s works like this that provide a distraction and a moment of joy to the healthcare setting.
We are pleased that the project is the cover feature in May, 2021 of Healthcare Design Magazine.