Taking her own inspiration from a recent study that shows patients undergoing cancer treatments are bolstered by images from nature, Suzanne Ball, owner of Gallery at Flat Rock, helped curate more than 60 artworks by 10 regional artists for Pardee Hospital’s new cancer-treatment center. (She worked with Debra Dailey of Greenville’s Dp3 Architects Interior Design Studio, gallery consultant Tom Madison, and project manager Craig Franks: the lists of artists includes Ball, Michael Bauermeister, Kelly Chelena, Carol Beth Icard, Tim Jones, Keith Spencer, Stephen St. Claire, Kate Thayer, Matt Tommey, and Cynthia Wilson.)
Ambient lighting and curved accent walls are part of a new idea that makes treatment centers feel less clinical — less, well, hospital-y. And since we’re in the mountains, there’s no need for bland, anonymous oceanscapes or unmoored florals to soften spaces. The works Ball and crew selected for the major Pardee addition — three of them were commissioned pieces — all have direct ties to the local topography, showing both long vistas and intimate botanical details of leaf, twig, and bark.
“The art is supposed to be contemplative and soothing to the mind and soul, and I hope it achieves that,” says Ball. “What was interesting in this process is how personal it was for some of the artists … Tim Jones was born at Pardee, and other artists had battled cancer themselves.”
Paintings presented in triptychs and panels (Stephen St. Claire’s “Blue Ridge Vista” and “Walk in the Woods,” Keith Spencer’s “Harmony”) make a strong showing, suggesting a ruminative journey. A stunning sculptural basket by the widely collected Tommey sits on the mantel surround.
One of the project’s commissioned works, Tommey’s “Nested in the Arms of Grace” is made of kudzu, poplar bark, copper, mountain laurel, encaustic wax, and paper clay. “My intention for this piece was to create something visually pleasing that would exude a sense of calm and healing that can only come from God,” notes Tommey. “It is widely understood that spiritual connection during the healing process increases a patient’s ability to heal — and walk through the healing process in a manageable way. I hope that my work is a catalyst [for that].”
Life In Color: The Pardee Cancer Center Artists, an exhibit of works by artists who contributed to the project, will show at The Gallery at Flat Rock, opening Saturday, February 11, with a reception from 5-7pm. (2702-A Greenville Highway in Flat Rock, 828-698-7000, galleryflatrock.com).