At Levine Children’s Hospital, art is more than simple decoration – it’s the element that transforms what might otherwise be a frightening place into a welcoming environment filled with warmth, wonder and fun.
“There’s so much power in imagery – and it really can be healing,” says art consultant Christie Taylor, owner of Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy, who helped lead the process of outfitting the hospital with original artwork. “It’s so much bigger than just picking something to go on a wall.”
From the beginning, art played a role in the hospital’s design. Today, Levine Children’s Hospital is a world of kid-friendly colors, textures and images – and home to more than a thousand pieces of original art.
“There’s not a single floor where you don’t find artwork,” says Carolinas HealthCare Foundation’s assistant vice president Kirstin Ashford, who helped plan the artwork when the hospital was built. “The idea was that everywhere you go, you’d be surrounded by it.”
From imaginative paintings to Panthers-inspired creations, get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the art that livens the atmosphere, lifts patients’ spirits and makes the hospital a happier place.
Wonder and Whimsy
The atrium. The bright, welcoming mood starts in the light-filled lobby, which features the hospital’s largest piece of custom art: a snaking, ladder-like installation dripping with 10,000 crystals. Created by renowned sculptor Donald Lipski, the colorful structure evokes a prismatic effect and inspires a feeling of awe.
“From the moment you walk in, there’s a real sense of wonder,” says Ashford.
X-Ray Café. Things take a whimsical turn in the ground-floor café, where a storybook-themed mural fills the walls. Well-known artist DeLoss McGraw painted the scene, which features familiar characters from nursery rhymes like Hey Diddle Diddle.
“It almost feels like you’re in a lullaby,” says Taylor. “The calmness of the scene helps create a feeling of comfort.”
For Kids, By Kids
Hallways and patient rooms. While many of the hospital’s signature pieces were produced by professional artists, hundreds more were created by the very group the hospital is dedicated to: kids. After all, who better to help create a cheerful, child-like atmosphere than children themselves?
“We put paper in libraries across town and invited local kids to create images for the hospital – and the response was amazing,” says Taylor. “Hundreds of children participated, sending their well wishes through the art they drew.”
Many of these pictures now grace hallways and patient rooms, adding a child-friendly element that’s authentic and unique.
Brightening the Mood
Surgery rooms. At the heart of the hospital’s art efforts is the goal to brighten children’s moods and diminish their fear and anxiety. The art around the fifth-floor surgery rooms does just that, helping create a feeling of calm for kids facing the understandably scary prospect of an operation. Thanks to a generous donation from air conditioning and heating company Morris-Jenkins, a colorful mural lines the hallway that kids are wheeled down on their way to surgery.
Cancer clinic. The outpatient hematology and oncology clinic was recently outfitted with a fanciful mural created in memory of Libby Jones, a courageous cancer fighter and former patient. Made possible by a gift from LIBStrong and Drew’s Crew, two groups of donor and patient friends and families, the mural incorporates imaginative details and creative touches of things Libby loved.
“Children who come for chemo are often here so frequently, and sometimes for long periods of time,” says Ashford. “It’s important to provide a healing environment with therapeutic distractions.”
Touches of Fun
Fifth-floor entryway. This area features one of the hospital’s quirkiest creations: three-dimensional fish made out of detergent containers. Elsewhere, lighthearted collages are put together from other eclectic items like buttons, pipe cleaners and bottle caps.
Panthers-themed patient floor. On the tenth floor, patients enter a specially created lair of football and fun: From top to bottom, the themed floor is brimming with all things Carolina Panthers. From pictures of players in action to spectacular views of the stadium, every room is filled with Panthers-related photos. A 3-D NFL pendant juts out from the wall. And in the hallways, a life-size mural recreates Sir Purr’s locker room.
“The kids really have fun with it,” says Ashford. “It’s doing what it was intended to do – put a smile on the children’s faces.”