Home > Art History, Chicago, Photography, Sculpture, Uncategorized > A Sweet Surprise at Swedish Covenant

A Sweet Surprise at Swedish Covenant

September 24, 2011

I drove HBBF to a doctor’s appointment today.  We had other errands to run, and I did not want him to have to walk to the nearby hospital.  Going to see a doctor is enough of a drag without having to walk there as well.  I brought a book, expecting to be bored in a drab waiting room.  As it turns out, the hospital building had invested a lot of money and effort invested in architecture and design. 

The waiting room had comfortable chairs and a very nice although nearly obligatory fish aquarium.  Why are aquariums the favorite decor of medical offices?  I suppose it is because fish move gracefully and don’t cause allergies.  Many saltwater fish are brightly colored and exotic.  I am practically suspicious of any large scale medical facility that lacks a fish tank or aquarium.  Clearly, the the absence of which communicates that the administration of said medical facility does not care enough about my well being to provide the calming power of swimming fish.  The fish were lovely, but that was not what caught my attention.  Swedish Covenant Hospital has some remarkable art on display. 

This large, metal, wall-mounted triptych is actually a fountain.  Water softly trickles down from the abstracted tree shape and sounds a bit like rain.  It was very pleasant.  The piece looks like it is made of plates of iron with varying patterns of rust and weathered exposure.  This is just outside the main entrance.  I imagine the staff must need to turn off the water pumps in the winter, so I was happy to see it in action.

Just inside the front doors, above a circular front desk, a pair of huge wooden wings span a round foyer area.  They are really nice and looks like they are suspended in perpetual flight.

Traditional hand woven carpets, the kind that are hand made on large upright frame looms, lined a wall as we headed down a hallway.  These were each displayed with a framed page with biographical information about the women that created each one.  There was a larger framed statement that indicated the origin of the beautiful carpets:

“Arzu, meaning hope in Dari, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides sustainable income to Afghan women by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave.  Arzu helps weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them above market compensation and access to education and health care.”

Then we arrived to the area of the hospital we needed.  This trip was really a three minute walk altogether from the front door to our destination.  Opposite of the aquarium, one wall of the waiting room had a huge beach scene, akin to what would be a normal summer scene from a local beach.  It was on canvas and may have been acrylic; the paint was very matte.  The work was painterly but not too loose.  Brush work helped frame shapes of figures and give texture to the sandy beach.  The movement of the people displayed and the overall composition was fantastic.  I just kept looking from person to person and following the actions in the scene.  I sat in front of it and watched people look up at the large painting with interest and sometimes amazement.  The people who stopped and took a long look at the painting may have been seeing it for the first time.  One man took a cell phone photo of it before moving to the waiting room desk to check in. 

Due to the art, this turned out to be the best trip to a hospital that I have ever taken.  Time went by very quickly for me due to the distraction of the works.  The works selected had a high level of skill and diversity of mediums.  Also, it was easy for me to be wholly absorbed by the art on display.  I was there as a driver and companion; it was HBBF who was getting jammed with a needle. 

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