‘Blue and White’ by Dawn Adams.


When the new IU Health Regional Academic Health Center opens next year, works by six area artists will play a role in the healing of all who enter the new hospital.

‘Irises’ by Patricia Rhoden Bartels.

In a February 2019 call, IU Health asked for artwork focusing on the landscapes of southern Indiana, including its lakes, gardens, fields, quarries, forests, and sky. Entitled “Shades of Southern Indiana,” the project asked for artwork that could be converted into tile mosaics for the new facility.

“Our architects encouraged us to have visioning principles that would guide
us throughout the project,” Mary Ann Valenta, regional director, alignment and integration, IU Health South Central Indiana, says of the overall facility project. She adds that the importance of nature to the patients, visitors, and those working at the health facility—which will overlook fields and trees—was one of those principles. Incorporating artwork that focuses on nature seemed an extension of that vision.

Seventy-eight artists submitted 528 individual original works. In November, the winning artists were announced at a reception at the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts. They include Dawn Adams, Patricia Rhoden Bartels, Sharon and Jessica Bussert, Paul Smedberg, and Brian Talbert.

Adams’ oil painting, Blue and White, was selected for inclusion. “I was excited to have my painting chosen because making art that heals has been part of my mission as an artist,” Adams says. The painting, which includes images of the sky with clouds, is intended to be soothing.

Patricia Rhoden Bartels had three oil paintings chosen. “It’s extremely special to have art in a hospital,” she says. “There’s a lot going on in a hospital that isn’t happy. My art has always been therapeutic to me. I can paint and be in another world. For the observer, art can also take you to those places.”

Bartels says it is an extraordinary opportunity to have her work displayed at the hospital. “It’s better than in a museum or someone’s home,” she says. “Thousands of people can see my work and enjoy it.”