Student artists at William Woods University are bringing color and life to the walls of Jefferson City’s new St. Mary’s Creektrail Clinics, which operate as part of St. Mary’s Health Center.
Knowing that Terry Martin, WWU professor of art, is a proponent of “healing art,” an employee of St. Mary’s contacted him to see whether his students could produce paintings to brighten the examination rooms at Creektrail Clinics.
St. Mary’s Health Center is a non-profit, mission-based hospital. Spending almost $4 million on charity care a year, the hospital’s budget goes almost exclusively to clinical care, so there is little left to provide building aesthetics.
A strong believer in the power of art, Martin asked students in his painting I and II classes to create unique pieces of art to hang on the walls as part of the WWU service-learning program. Service-learning utilizes community service to help students gain a deeper understanding of course content, acquire new knowledge and engage in civic activity.
In starting this project, Martin and his class viewed slides of the interior and exterior of the clinics to learn what was needed. Inspired by the calming idea of nature, the students identified Georgia O’Keefe as an artist they wanted to emulate.
“Because of the opportunity to study Georgia O’Keefe,” Martin said, “students were able to apply the pleasing psychological effect her art has on people.”
On Nov. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts, Dianne Lowry and Sheila Libbert, will receive the paintings, meet the student artists and present them with Guardian Angel pins as a token of thanks.
Lowry, a WWU alumna, is the development and foundation coordinator of St. Mary’s Health Center. Libbert serves as manager of St. Mary’s Creektrail Clinics. Both are thankful for the gift of artwork and feel that it can be a great benefit to the patients.
“I could not be more delighted to have this relationship with William Woods,” Lowry said. “Art created by students, with our mission in mind, is so meaningful. Art is the universal language. If you have a patient that has a language or cultural barrier, art can immediately relax them. Art is a spiritual expression, beauty and color can be very calming and translate into any language.”
She added, “Art, where a patient is, is something beautiful, especially something that implies nature, it creates a calming effect.”
Katherine Goodman, one of the student artists and a senior in equine administration from Kingwood, Texas, agrees.
“I think art brings personality to a room. Clinics are usually quite depressing and I think the art that we did will give the clinic a more inviting feeling.”
Kelly Trustee is proud that her art piece has a purpose.
“This project gave us experience with painting, but the end result also goes to help a greater cause,” the senior graphic design major from Huntsville, Mo., said. “Having our work on public display in a clinic is a great honor; I just hope that it brings some joy and hope to those who need it.”
Martin is pleased with how the paintings turned out.
“The effort of the students was remarkable,” he said. “They exceeded my expectation.”
Corey Blackburn is a junior from Fulton, majoring in education with an art concentration. She understands the benefits that the classes’ artwork will have.
“Good art allows a person to express feelings without saying a word. Some of these pieces will bring a calming, comforting feeling to the patients. Others that are more vibrant paintings will exude an invigorating feeling to the patients, hopefully brightening their day when they don’t feel well.”
She added, “I hope our paintings exhibit a feeling of hope to the patients that come in, a hope that even though they may be sick, things will get better.”
Student work in the Corridor Gallery of the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts.
Painting by Katherine Goodman of Kingwood, Texas
Lily by Corey Blackburn of Fulton