Client: Fentress family
Location: Waco, USA
Completion date: 1978
Artwork budget: $10,000
Barry Woods Johnston
Healing Light, was commissioned by the Fentress family in 1978 to be placed in the lobby of the Fentress Cancer Center, Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, Texas. This 5' wide bronze relief is a testament of the powerful healing work of Jesus. The healing takes place bracketed by both believers and those blinded by religious piety.
In expressing the essence of the recovery process, this sculptural proposal strives to capture the transformation that a patient undergoes during treatment and rehabilitation in your hospital, progressing from the critical operation stage into the period of convalescence and finally complete healing. The treatment is initially inward and then transformed to the outward exhilaration, a breaking out from the protective shell as wholeness returns with being cured. While the treatment stage is more introspective and requires professional focus, healing is more extrovert and bold, a fulfilling of aspirations and, in rehab, requires encouragement and facilitating programs that will bring a patient back to his/her feet. Initial treatment requires faith and dependency. Convalescence aspires for renewed strength, restored health and wellness.
The Fentress family, of course, were committed Christians. I was relatively young when I was commissioned to create this piece. Contact for the job came through my mother's devoted Christian friends. Photos were sent to the client during the conceptual stage of the project, and, after the concept was approved, I modeled it in clay and had it cast at New Arts Foundry in Baltimore, Maryland. The relief was to be mounted on the wall of the entrance lobby facing the entrance. Trained as an architect with a degree from Georgia Tech, I had a clear sense of the feeling I would achieve. The relief was to float freely on the mounting wall so that it would dominate, drawing attention without imposing on the movement within the space.