My Final Project Part Two: Public Art

I recently have taken notice of the wealth of artwork in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I find it comforting that patients and visitors, not to mention the staff and students at the hospital benefit from being surrounded by fine art.

The past few times I have taken my daughter or wife to appointments, I have been struck by the positive effect this art had on me, so I can imagine how beneficial it is to the mood and health of those who roam those halls on a regular basis. As a parent, I liked that the children’s clinic area features colorful illustrations and more playful art, which must provide a welcome distraction from the concerns and fears of parents, patients and other passers-by.

I wondered where all this art came from, and who paid for it. It is all part of Project Art. I think their concept of “Humanizing the Health Care Environment” is fantastic.

From their webpage:

“Since the inception of Project Art in 1978, UI Hospitals and Clinics have provided all of Project Art’s programs at no charge. If additional funds are required, donations are raised before the event through grants from hospital departments, local businesses, corporations, foundations, the Iowa Arts Council and private contributions.”

I was also impressed to read about the Art in State Buildings Program, which ensures that .5 percent of large construction projects built by the state budget for public art:

“University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics participates in the Art in State Buildings program (AiSB) in accordance with legislation (Iowa Code: 304A. 8-14), which mandates that one-half of one percent of the cost of major state construction projects will be devoted to the acquisition and presentation of fine art.”

After leaving the hospital this morning, while walking to the School of Music, I finally made my way into the new Art Building West. I have seen pictures of the building, and taken a virtual tour, but I was quite impressed with the design and beauty of this structure. In addition to a unique library which hovers over the man-made pond and dramatic, modern, industrial style, the building also houses a cafe (which makes me very envious).

I wandered into the gallery and was very impressed with the Jewelry and Metal Arts Exhibition, on exhibit until tomorrow. Featured were pieces by undergraduate and graduate students, including avant-garde teapots, disfunctional spoons, forks and knives, and a variety of small metal objects. From the press release:

This October, they will be showing their most recent accomplishments of the fall semester reflecting the diversity of technical, conceptual and stylistic directions explored by students in the program. The program emphasizes traditional techniques as well as cutting-edge computer technology, the development of individual artistic expression, as well as other skills necessary for professional achievement. Students are encouraged to create freely, without any media boundaries, producing jewelry, hollowware, flatware, mixed media objects, sculpture, installation pieces, furniture, light fixtures, and artful consumer products intended for mass production all of which will be on display.

One commonality I have found between all of the arts is that they all evoke an emotional response. I wouldn’t think that looking at metal arts would be that interesting to me, but I really did appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity involved. Just as I don’t always expect all audiences to understand – or “get” modern music, I don’t think you need to understand much about metalurgy or jewelry to enjoy this exhibit. There seemed to be something for everyone, even including a “Batman” bracelet (which was a wire circle with “Wham” and “Bop” soldered on) and a teapot that looked exactly like a scaled-down model of the front of an “Orange County Choppers” bike.

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