Client: Miami Valley Hospital South
Location: Dayton, USA
Completion date: 2013
Skyline Art Services
The Cancer Resource Library at Miami Valley South Campus Cancer Center called for a unique and dynamic art installation to set it apart from the rest of the center. The wall-hanging sculptures Whitfill created, made of reclaimed and repurposed clothbound books, made good sense for several reasons.
The library, located prominently near the front entrance of the center, was a uniquely cozy and enclosed space in the building. Along with sheltered nooks for quiet study, it featured a fireplace and many shelves of books made available to patients and families to learn more about their own health and treatment.
Whitfill's book sculptures suited this space because the warm colors and visible texture of the pages of the repurposed books complemented the wood finishes and homey interiors. At the same time the vibrant colors of the exposed, clothbound spines contrasted with the stonework of the fireplace, above which they were installed.
Furthermore, the pieces took the weighty subjects of the library – books, learning, study, and illness – and made light use of them. The reclaimed books were treated less than reverentially, disassembling them and turning them into objects of beauty. The remnants of exposed text on their spines, elided titles and embossing, allowed for extended engagement, curiosity, and exploration. In terms of evidence-based design for healthcare, they offer “positive distraction.”
The book wheels needed to be sturdy enough to withstand their location above a working fireplace. They were each encased in a protective coating of resin that made them cleanable and able to withstand significant exposure. Because they were out of the way of pedestrian traffic they could stand considerably deeper off the wall than ADA restrictions would otherwise allow.
Skyline Art Services was the intermediary between the artist and the hospital. They were very attentive to the particulars that were needed to be address for the hospital, and found and commissioned Jonathan Whitfill's work in order to meet the client's needs. The Cancer Resource Library was designed to be a place of warmth, safety, and refuge for patients and families undertaking self-directed study of their own illness and treatment. Whitfill's sculptures helped make the place comforting and lively by adding dimension, color, and a sly sense of humor.
The Miami Valley South Campus Cancer Center was approximately 70K sq. ft. Located in suburban Dayton, Ohio, it enjoyed a siting with plentiful views of nature, which made the overall art program much simpler and more complementary than its main campus located downtown.