Client: Kaiser Permanente
Location: Baltimore, MD, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $50,000
MkM Fine Art, Inc
MkM Fine Art, Inc
We were asked after the art for the whole project had been selected, to come up with a solution to provide sculptures as an alternative to plants. Given a budget and 6 weeks, we contacted Kate and Joel who conceived of and fabricated 24 free standing sculptures on bases that articulate plant species that are used in medicine: Ginger, St John's Wort, chamomile, garlic, and wintergreen. The sculptures are placed in public waiting and traffic areas and fit into the already full space with an elegance and eloquence that far exceeds our expectations.
The goal of the commission was to avoid the long term recurring costs of living plants in a hospital setting. They get dusty and need watering, trimming and replacing, which eventually is a headache and an expense. The idea of the plant substitutes could have been kitsch and an attractive nuisance. The solution is a surprisingly elegant and practical, despite their jewellery like precision and dressiness, they are filigree, airy, attractively varied, fascinating and educational. The overall brand of Kaiser's health message, is encapsulated in these plants, health, nature, good eating, exercise and happiness. Seeing that the artwork had already been designed it was vital that they not gild the lily, but work in places that needed a focal point, and being open, transparent, and branching ij habit, they could adorn windows, corners, seating areas without taking up much needed living space.
Kaiser is famous for little interruption in the collaborative design process. Using 27 colors in the project chosen form the prescribed palette, our conduit branding specialist Nicole Hoch and I presented these ideas to a very small committee of healthcare professionals who had the courage to take a chance on these two young sculptors on the strength of a sample prototype and some loose sketches. They were delivered and placed a few days before opening at which time most people were seeing them for the first time.
I think that these sculptures will be revolutionary. There is nothing out there like them and they add an ingredient that now that we have them, seems to be sorely missing from every other healthcare project of this caliber.