Where the Sycamore Resides

Submitted by Clare Hirn

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Client: UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital

Location: Lexington, KY, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $18,000

Project Team

Artist

Clare Hirn

Industry Resource

Glenn Grizzle

Nimlock Kentucky / Sign Crafters

Overview

I was commissioned to create a mural and installation piece for UK Albert Chandler Hospital for the entrance area to the Children’s Hospital. A high traffic area, it connects the newly built hospital addition and the existing hospital. I was asked to bring color into the area, make the work accessible to all ages and to incorporate a previously installed large intarsia piece by another artist made exclusively from intricately cut pieces of natural wood. My artwork treats a space12’ x 15’ x 16’ vertical, and wraps around the elevator used to access the Children’s Hospital on another floor.

Goals

My significant challenge in creating “Where the Sycamore Resides” was to balance the infusion of color into the space while also creating artwork that equaled, respected and enhanced the massive natural wood intarsia by Dan Diekoff. This intricate (but heavy in feel) piece has a forest setting theme and was relocated to this space after the addition to the hospital. My piece responds to the intarsia but is designed to read as a very distinct stand-alone artwork. For the centerpiece and focal point I created a 14’ tall fiberboard cutout sycamore tree, constructed and painted in the studio. My mural was painted on site in acrylics, moving from neutral colors of the natural wood piece into full color. The hand painted wood cutouts from fiberboard (fire treated), “puzzle piece” together and also stand out from the wall in relief. Some of the cutouts “stack” to give even more dimension. The cutouts were installed over the mural, creating a three-dimensional affect. The mural and installation wraps walls, dips below doorways, incorporates the elevator area and defines the space.

Process

A beautiful aspect of public artwork is the collaboration that goes into creating the final piece. Working within specific parameters and with various individuals allows an artist to explore directions she might not normally pursue. For this commission I worked with Jackie Hamilton, Director of the UK Chandler Arts in HealthCare program, which places multiple forms of art throughout their hospitals and clinics. Their collection features local, national and international artists and people visit the hospital just to see the artwork, including a popular folk art collection. I had been communicating with Jackie for approximately a year, and she called to bring me in on this project. Healthcare professionals working at the hospital were also consulted and because the area is the entrance area to the Children’s Hospital within UK Chandler, the piece was designed for all ages. I consulted with Glenn Grizzle of Nimlok Kentucky whose company expertly installed the fiberboard pieces. They visited the studio and together we arrived at solutions for safe installment as well as creative ways to enhance the concept of dimensional space. We worked together on site for the installation.

Additional Information

While working on site, I met many people visiting, working, and being treated in the hospital. The project confirmed for me that people sincerely respond to original art work and I realized even more just how important it is to incorporate artwork into healthcare settings. I received much positive feedback, almost overwhelming at times. I hope that my piece can offer a moment of repose, even happiness, to those who pass through. One follow-up email: “ I smile every time I walk through.” My first large project working with three-dimensional materials, I hope to expand the technique.