November 19, 2010
Two permanent tile displays featuring artwork from nearly 200 Chair City students have been mounted in the Watkins Center for Emergency and Acute Care at Heywood Hospital.
The Waterford Street School artwork depicts an array of vividly drawn animals while the Helen Mae Sauter School project boasts a colorful arrangement of flowers inspired by the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe. Both are located in the hospital’s new 72,000-square-foot addition.
"They’re very exuberant," said Art Teacher Ruth Suyenaga, who coordinated the yearlong project with parents Janet Harris and Brigitte Flick. "The animal tiles look like they’re going to step off the wall and the flower tiles are just beautiful."
Ms. Harris is credited with getting the ball rolling on the project after encouraging the hospital to include children’s artwork in its new expansion.
"Ruth, Janet and Brigitte were so enthusiastic about the students' work and how this would all turn out in the end," said Lorie Martiska, Vice-President of Community Relations and Development at Heywood Hospital. "Now that the panels are up, I am amazed at how beautiful the work is."
Heywood President and CEO Daniel P. Moen echoed this sentiment.
"What a great legacy for them and what a wonderful community project for us," he said. "Heywood values our work with the community and area schools and this artwork provides of visual reminder of that relationship."
"I especially like the fact that we are involving people in the Hospital at such an early age," Mr. Moen continued. "Maybe there will be some future doctors and nurses, as well as artists, as a result."
Indeed, many of the students who contributed to the project have connections with the hospital and according to Ms. Harris, roughly half were born there.
In searching for an organization to produce the tiles, Ms. Harris chose SilverGraphics Studios — an art-based fundraising company out of Schenectady, N.Y.
"If it wasn’t for the quality of the tiles I wouldn’t have taken this on," Ms. Suyenaga added. "I didn’t want the colors to come back all distorted but when you see it, the tiles look like something that came out of a kiln."
The Waterford Street School display is comprised of three, 75-pound panels while the Helen Mae Sauter School display is made up of three, 95-pound panels.
The animal tiles were colored using oil pastels while the backgrounds were painted green.
"It’s really a lively piece in a light filled room," Ms. Suyenaga said. "I’m sure after a hard day the hospital staff will be nourished by the children’s art."
Ms. Flick, who managed the Helen Mae Sauter School’s portion of the project, said she tried to balance the flower tiles by keeping the ones with green backgrounds on the outer two panels and moving the bluish-purple backgrounds to the center.
"I think the children are proud to have their art up in such a permanent location," Ms. Flick said. "It’s something that should be done more often in the community."
In the end, Ms. Suyenaga described the hospital’s new addition as the perfect home for the panels.
"Art is healing, and the children's unique vision comes straight from their hearts," she said. "The children know how important the hospital is in their lives and through this project, they contributed to making the new wing more beautiful and cheerful for patients."
The tile projects will be unveiled during a special reception for the students and their families Nov. 17.
"I cannot wait until the students come later this month for a special reception and see their artwork hanging here," Ms. Martiska said. "They should be very proud of what they have created."
The collaborative art project was funded through parent donations, Heywood Hospital, Travers Printing Inc., Gardner Deep Sea Club and Heywood Radiology Dept.
The coordinators would like to thank Waterford Street School Principal Dan Hill, Helen Mae Sauter School Principal Cherie McComb and Gardner Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Daring for their assistance.
They would also like to thank Mr. Moen, Ms. Martiska, Joe Paul Construction and TRO Jung Brannen designers Joanne MacIsaac and Jennifer Sicklick “for opening their minds and hearts to the children of Gardner.”