The healing power of art

By Jessica Schurmann

A&E Editor

It is difficult not to stop and gaze in awe the first time you step inside Viterbo’s new Nursing Center. One year ago all that stood in its place was a skeletal structure filled with machines and construction workers. It is astounding to see the finished product, and walk the floors of a building that has been the dream of many for years.

Lumen sat down with Gary Klein, vice president for Institutional Ad­vancement to talk about the artwork displayed in the Nursing Center. Klein served on the artwork com­mittee, which consisted of 11 cur­rent faculty, staff and alumni. The committee was in charge of com­missioning local artists and choos­ing the artwork that would be pur­chased and given a home in the new building.

For the first time in Viterbo his­tory, a generous donation by bene­factor Dick Record and his family has made it possible for money and planning to be used in purchasing artwork for the Nursing Center. Careful consideration went into each piece that was chosen, and many of the works have strong con­nections to Viterbo’s history and nursing values.

One of the most profound pieces of art is a glass mosaic entitled Se­renity. Made up of six panels, the mosaic measures five feet high by thirteen feet wide, and includes various scenes of nature. Serenity was commissioned for and built by artist Barbara Keith of Lanesboro, Minn. She chose nature as her theme because of the kind and caring “na­ture” of the nursing students. Keith also used seasons to represent the different stages in life. Serenity is lo­cated on the first floor in the main lobby.

Outside the lobby area there is a unique healing garden between the Nursing Center and Fine Arts Cen­ter. Within the garden lies a Laby­rinth, which is an ancient walking meditation tool used for deepening one’s spiritual life and life journey. Anyone is welcome to take a mo­ment to relax ones mind and follow the winding trail in the garden. Also in the healing garden is a sculpture, made by artist Elmer Peterson, that features a woman holding a bird, and symbolizes the caring nature Viterbo values in its nursing stu­dents.

Another unique body of work that is displayed in the Nursing Center is a group of three paintings, entitled Sister Trees. The artist, Kate Bausch, has three sisters who are Viterbo alumni. Each tree painting symbol­izes one of her sisters, and the strong ties they have to the university.

When walking through the Nurs­ing Center, you will also notice many photography pieces by The­resa Smerud. She served on the art committee, and was responsible for touching up old nursing photo­graphs that can be found through­out the building as labels for lecture halls and classrooms. A great num­ber of Smerud’s photographs are located on each floor, with scenes of human interaction, emotion and everyday life.

Acrylic artist Anders Shafer also provided significant artwork to the Nursing Center. The first floor lob­by hosts his series on the history of nursing. Each painting shows im­ages from history, from St. Francis’ journey to the current Viterbo stu­dents. Upstairs on the third floor, Shafer also has a series of paintings depicting the Viterbo nursing val­ues. The acrylic paintings include images from campus with one of the values represented in the center of each one.

Sr. Karen Kappell, FSPA, created a series of paintings located on the second floor, called Chakra paint­ings. These bold colored paintings relate to the different feelings and emotions humans experience from color.

Glass paintings, paper art, prints, and collages also enhance the Nurs­ing Center halls. Other artists who created the commissioned art piec­es include Isabel Babuzza, Diane French, and Pietra Wall. Some of the artwork is commercial art, pur­chased to accompany the commis­sioned work, and a few pieces are from Italy, retrieved by Viterbo staff and faculty on their journeys over­seas.

“The artwork gives the building heart and soul,” Klein told Lumen. “We’ve received countless compli­ments from benefactors who have toured the building.”

The new Nursing Center is a very remarkable architectural structure, both on the outside and inside. Each floor brings a unique quality of Vit­erbo’s personality and values to life with beautiful artwork. It is evident that careful planning and consider­ation went into every detail of the Nursing Center. It will be enjoyed not only during its first exciting year, but for many years to come.

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