4-Story signature artwork “piece-by-pieced” into HCMC’s Clinic & Specialty Center

ArtworkOn Wednesday, December 13, 2017 the intricate task of installing a 4-story glass artwork in Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) new Clinic & Specialty Center began – a process that may take up to three days and represents almost two years of planning. A gift from the Hennepin Health Foundation (HHF), the piece illuminates images of life, hope, healing, and a sense of belonging to a community inclusive of our patients, families, and staff. The new Clinic & Specialty Center, located just across 8th Street from HCMC’s emergency department, is near completion and scheduled to open in March, 2018.

Architectural glass artist Martin Donlin, who is known for designing major installations of this type worldwide, was selected by a special art committee made up of employees, patients, artists, and community members using a local, national and international Call for Artists. The narrative design incorporates the Minnesota iconic element of water as a symbol of life and resiliency. The 15 panels tell a story that started as a unique collaboration between Donlin and local environmental poet Laurie Allmann, who was commissioned to write the corresponding poem Mirroring the Light. Together the poem and design describe the transformation of water and life, shown through nurturing figures and wildlife ascending from a single plant to the heavens, spanning from 1st to 4th floor, all while acknowledging local hallmarks and heritage. (A video featuring the artists and their inspiration for this piece can be found here.) 

“When the Clinic & Specialty Center doors open in March of 2018, patients, families, visitors and staff will enter a space that embraces healing and wellness, with this magnificent sculpture at the heart of it all,” explains Wenda Lyons Ballinger, Arts Program Coordinator at HCMC. “In fact, the artwork’s healing presence will be a strong force for those who see it through the expansive windows from the outside, too.”

The art glass itself was made of two layers of 8mm float glass, heat strengthened and laminated together. The design was airbrushed and hand painted with colored enamels and silver stains. The panels will be hung with stainless steel airline cables to secure each section in place. Professionals from Empire House, Inc. will complete the installation.

“With this art piece we’ve captured the beauty and strength of our mission that continues in our Clinic & Specialty Center, where literally we’re changing the way health care is delivered in the heart of Minneapolis,” said Ford Bell, Vice President of Philanthropy for HHF. “It’s a very real representation of our big, beautiful vision that every Minnesotan will have access to our state-of-the art, convenient care.”

The glass artwork is one of over 600 works of art that will be featured in the building, with most of the original work created by local, Minnesota, and regional artists. No longer considered “nice to have” decoration, art is now understood to be a vital part of the healthcare environment. Studies have proven that integrating the arts into healthcare settings cultivates a healing environment and supports the physical, mental, and emotional recovery of patients and families.  HCMC has maintained a healing art collection since 1974 and boasts a multi-disciplinary arts program since 2003 named Inspire Arts. Curating for the Clinic & Specialty Center artwork was led by local art consultancy Dorsey Hovde Art Design.

Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc. (HHS) is a comprehensive health care system that includes HCMC, a 484-bed Level I Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center, as well as primary care and specialty care clinics located in downtown Minneapolis and suburban Hennepin County. In 2018, HHS opens its new Clinic & Specialty Center downtown offering convenient, easy access to clinics and specialty services. For more information, go to www.hcmc.org.

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One of the two floors of glass artwork that was installed on Wednesday, December 13. The remaining two stories of artwork are scheduled to be installed on Thursday, December 14 using a special robotic system.

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