New hospital has healing focus on artwork

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The new Eskenazi Hospital stands out not just for its state-of-the-art design, but it stands out for its art, which was paid for by donors.

The hospital has 20 pieces throughout its campus. They range from large wooden sculpture above the atrium to four TC Steele paintings done a century ago for the first city hospital.

"TC Steele, 100 years ago, understood what we know today, which is that art heals people," said Matt Gutwein, Health & Hospital CEO.

Gutwein says the art was put in unexpected places, like the elevator bay.

"These trees are soft, warm, they glow and what trees represent is life, shelter, growth and hope," said Gutwein.

Margo Sawyer's work is in a hallway leading from the garage.

"She used Indianapolis 500 car paint to paint this burst of color," Gutwein said.

Another fun piece in the hospital "interacts with you as you get closer to it. It lights up with a different pattern every time," Gutwein said.

One mural holds the most meaning for Gutwein. It was done by a photojournalist who had IPS students take pictures of their world. It is in the pediatric waiting room.

"So the people enjoying this mural will be lots of kids and moms and it's a beautiful piece and we think it's really wonderful," he said.

Hammond artist Ismael Muhammad Nives did two paintings for a waiting room, both filled with symbolism.

"The cardinal perched represents an awareness of the hospital looking over Marion County," Nives said.

Another piece was done by a visually-impaired artist who recruited Midtown mental health patients to design some of the tiles.

"We've designed this entire campus with a singular focus," said hospital CEO Dr. Lisa Harris.

Harris says that focus is promoting healing and long-term health.

"We know that art has the power to reduce stress, which is critical to healing, to reduce blood pressure, to improve optimism," she said.

It's hoped patients won't be the only ones who benefit.