Storytelling Through Artwork

October 16, 2019
Dawn's Delight triptych by Raven Roxanne.
"Dawns Delight" by Raven Roxanne

Not surprisingly, artwork and beautiful vistas can enhance the patient experience and have positive outcomes on patient and staff well-being and care. The new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion, opening in October 2019, will not disappoint, offering patients, their families and staff both spectacular views of the Lowcountry as well as artwork from a number of local and regional artists.

The new children’s hospital and women’s pavilion, with 11 floors, is situated on the banks of the Ashley River, providing pediatric patients and expectant mothers some of the most stunning views of the greater Charleston area. Many patient rooms will overlook the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

In addition to the spectacular setting, a dedicated group of volunteers and staff has been working for two years to define the scope of the interior decor that would befit each of the 11 floors and select the art and artists whose work will appear throughout the facility. The project was developed and guided by Carolyn BaRoss and Aiko Tanabe, interior designers with Perkins & Will. Locally, the program was coordinated by hospital art curators Roberta Sokolitz and Brittany Bates. Also, the hospital’s Youth Patient Advisory Council, a group of teenage patients, weighed in, giving a thumb’s up to selections made.

Each floor will tell a story through its art that reflects on the Lowcountry. Arriving at the children’s hospital, patients and visitors will see welcoming art, fun and creative murals and many images that will ignite smiles on some and for others provide a sense of peace and serenity.

Once they enter the public lobby on the main floor, they will see a massive and breathtaking image of the Lowcountry created by Charleston’s own John Duckworth. The dramatic feature measures 60 feet wide by 10 feet tall and runs along the main lobby floor wall to the stairway. A second piece will be found on the stairwell of the ground floor.

MUSC chief of the Children’s and Women’s Health Mark A. Scheurer, M.D., said, “Duckworth was the ideal artist to fill this important area. One of the most dramatic features in the hospital, his landscape abstract captures the essence of the Lowcountry while providing a tranquil, yet serene and calming influence to welcome individuals into the children’s hospital.”

Duckworth’s website might best describe his work. “Duckworth’s works transcend the line between realism and abstraction. His photographs are infused with an intimate knowledge of nature, a passion for pure color, and a rhythm drawn from life itself. His trademark style involves abstracting the photographic image to lend the work a much lauded painterly appearance. By providing the viewer a sense of place, yet obscuring the details, he allows each individual to step into the image and bring forth their own visual history.”

An interactive kayak sculpture, located in front of the Duckworth piece, will be especially fun for younger visitors, with seating built just for them. At the same time, the sculpture also reminds others about the importance of the water that fills the nearby ocean, rivers and marshes.

Committee member and volunteer family advisor Kelly Loyd said, “We’ve been challenged to find art that appeals to the broad patient base from very young children to teens who will be patients at the children’s hospital to expectant mothers who will give birth in the new Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion,” she said.

Artist Kristen Solecki is well known throughout Charleston for her illustrations and work that transcends a diverse range of ages and tastes. Her illustrations will appear as part of the wall protection in the patient care areas and capture the child friendly themes that will warm the hearts of patients and visitors alike.

Sisal Design, a well-known Charleston design firm, will help bring to life the Child Life discovery wall located on the seventh floor in the children’s Atrium playroom. This mural, which pops with color, becomes an interactive I Spy game for patients and families upon approach. The firm is also creating an artistic rendering of a treehouse that likewise will find a home in the Atrium.

Stitch Design Company of Charleston is creating the wall graphics that will appear near the elevators of each floor and feature special Lowcountry- related themes. The main lobby is titled “A Warm Welcome to the Lowcountry,” and subsequent floors offer equally charming Charleston themes such as “Heroes of the Lowcountry,” “The Beaches,” “The Marsh,” “Lowcountry Arts,” “Springtime in the Lowcountry,” “Lowcountry Architecture,” “Lowcountry Landscape,” “Cruising Around the Lowcountry,” “Adventures in the Lowcountry” and culminating with the top floor fittingly called “Rooftops Over the Lowcountry.”

MUSC’s own Nancy Lemon, who is a freelance illustrator and author, found her passion and love of drawing fun characters and animals by reading the newspaper comics. Her playful designs will come to life in murals lining the hallways for patients as they are taken to surgery, providing a whimsical way to de-stress.

Charleston artist Jonathan Green creates highly collectible works of art. His depictions of Gullah life with the use of vibrant colors are sought after by art enthusiasts around the world. Three Jonathan Green pieces will be found in the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion.

Stained glass artisan Robert Hines of Charleston is creating a fused-glass tree that replicates the Angel Oak tree on John’s Island, which will be displayed in the chapel located on the seventh floor.
The Art Committee’s work continues with additional artists being selected.

MUSC board-certified and registered art therapist and art committee member Katie Hinson said the use of art in hospitals has become increasingly more popular.

“Patients and families often think of health care environments as stark and uninviting,” she said. “MUSC is changing what’s possible as members of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion Art Committee work to support a healing environment by implementing artwork as a tool to humanize hospital spaces and perhaps make them feel less medical and more engaging through mindful design themes, exhibitions and wayfinding using iconic artworks. Studies show that when a hospital is attentive to the aesthetics of the environment, it reduces stress and anxiety, promotes health and healing and improves patient and employee safety.”

Hinson leads a community effort called Arts in Healing Superhero Self Portrait Project, which will showcase the talents of young artists. In a variety of community settings, local children and teens are creating their own pieces of art depicting superheroes. Ultimately, these depictions will be framed and appear along the walls of the Emergency Department at the new children’s hospital.

In addition, patients in the hospital will have plenty of opportunities to create artwork in one of the Child Life playroom areas of the hospital or perhaps even in their own rooms. In various locations throughout the hospital, frames will open and offer a home to patients’ works of art.

No matter what floor is visited, the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion will display artwork to evoke the senses and calm the spirit.