A half-dozen Kansas artists have created site-specific artwork for the Salina Health Education Center — the new home of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina and the KU School of Nursing-Salina — which will have its grand opening June 21. The selected artists come from across the state, and their respective installations are inspired by the missions of the two schools located in the Health Education Center.
Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, director of the School of Medicine-Salina, said commissioning new artwork for the building where students and employees spend so many hours makes it a less sterile environment.
“Adding artwork to the hallowed halls of health care education can expand students’ horizons and help them consider their chosen career in more holistic terms,” Cathcart-Rake said.
Geraldine Craig and Nelson Smith of Lindsborg designed a mixed-media work focused on the theme of healing for walls outside second-floor classrooms. A. Mary Kay of Lindsborg created four paintings for the main lobby that reflect the natural processes of birth, growth, death and renewal. Dylan Mortimer of Westwood installed a collage of brightly colored cellular formations in the building’s community room. Alan Tollakson of Emporia created a sculpture using stone and light that symbolizes the layered relationships involved in medicine for the second-floor study lounge. Dierk Van Keppel of Merriam installed a glasswork piece in the east entrance depicting a sunset and horizon as images of hope.
Van Keppel, a KU alumnus who studied sociology and glassmaking, said this opportunity allowed him to achieve his goal of integrating his artwork into the fabric of KU.
“I believe in the mission of the school, which is to believe in rural America,” Van Keppel said. “This school represents hope for rural medicine. The goal of my work is to complement the environment of the school with transcendence and hope.”
Spencer Museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy served on the project review panel that selected artist projects.
“Art and medicine are necessities for quality of life throughout Kansas,” Reece Hardy said. “Artists nurture the communities they work in, as will this next generation of nurses and doctors educated in this building.”
In addition to the artworks created for the building, the artist team of Anne Arkebauer from Leawood and Carolyn Wedel from Salina is creating a commemorative print for the building’s opening.
The grand opening of the Salina Health Education Center is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, June 21. The new campus is located in a historic former bank building at 138 N. Santa Fe Ave.