Nature and Art and Birds at Hopkins
I’ve written before about the healing powers of nature, and even where we can find nature and representations of nature in hospitals. I’ve been wandering around Johns Hopkins in Baltimore lately, looking at their amazing art collection (I love that this is a “thing” in many hospitals). One day I came across a long hallway with 26 framed photos of a water garden:
Each of them had a different smudge of paint on the mat, and the same color board on the bridge. At the end of the hallway was a description of what was going on. The water garden was, of course, Giverny, where Monet painted many of his most famous works. The artist in this case was Spencer Finch, who helped to design some of the exterior of the hospital using this color scheme. As the statement read:
…Finch distilled 26 shades of blue, green, purple, yellow and gray from the palette of the famous French Impressionist painter… Each of the 26 photographs documents a panel painted with one of the artist’s colors, poised on Monet’s footbridge and reflected in the lily pond. Finch’s paint brush and pencil notations below each photograph record the particular color as well as its descriptive name.
These colors are then replicated on the outside of the building (see above and here):
Finch’s ‘alphabet’ of 26 colors can be found on the building’s reflective exterior, painted on aluminum panels and encased in glass shadowboxes… Along the eastern side of the building, on Wolfe Street, one can find Finch’s entire color spectrum, arranged as they are here, alphabetically by the name of the color.
More of Finch’s work can be found on many of the windows in that part of the hospital, including glass walkways.
Recalling Money’s brushstrokes and the rippling of water, Finch developed a unique ‘frit’ pattern for the building’s glass. A two-layer composition, his hand-drawn strokes are fused onto the building’s glass curtain wall, reflecting and refracting light and shadows.
A benefit of this is that the glass becomes safer for birds! Birds can see the design, so are less likely to crash into the structure as they can’t see glass. A friend of mine who’s an architect well-versed in bird-friendly design said that the pattern would ideally be a little closer together, but that the design is still likely effective. I think it’s a great example of art meeting conservation biology, with the added bonus that this design is rather soothing to look at — in keeping with the idea that nature and representations of nature are healing to people.