Local artists featured in new Stamford Hospital
STAMFORD — When plans for the new Stamford Hospital began ten years ago, it was clear that art was always going to be part of the picture.
“It started from the very beginning,” said Katharine Sachs, one of the art consultants for the project. “Art is a key part of the building process. It’s about bringing the outdoors in.”
Another key part was finding work from local artists.
“Stamford is such a community-based hospital,” Sachs said. “We wanted to as many local artists as we could.”
For three years, Sachs and her mother, who also consulted on the art, helped find and purchase pieces for the new hospital. The pair found artists from as close as Darien and from as far from Australia through art shows, personal connections and artist recommendations. The result is 600 pieces throughout the hospital, many created by local artists. The art is not an open exhibit but is intended to help with the healing process for hospital patients and to serve as comfort for their visitors and families.
The artwork can be found in various forms throughout the building. Ten-foot-tall graphics covering the wall greet visitors on each patient floor. All the floors have different nature-related themes, so family members can remember where they are in the 650,000-square-foot building. The work featured throughout the halls and rooms is a combination of commissioned pieces and pieces the artists had already created.
“I imagined it like this: Patients would feel better if they could see something real, not a poster,” said Maureen Krinsley, an artist from New Canaan whose work is featured in the hospital.
Krinsley is an art therapist and her husband also works in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
She has collages and paintings in the hospital inspired by the Caribbean and the concept of light and flow.
“The hospital is an important place to feel something beautiful,” she added.
Many of the artists said their own experiences with relatives in the hospital also inspired their artwork. Dana Goodfellow, a featured artist from Darien, said she realized the healing power of art when her 90-year-old aunt was in and out of a nursing home.
“The first thing I did was put paintings in her room,” said Goodfellow. “It makes such a difference in healing.”
The use of local artists added a personal touch to the work that may resonate with patients from the area. Goodfellow’s landscapes displayed at the hospital show locations that may be familiar to visitors, places such as Waveny Park in New Canaan and Weed Beach in Darien.
Other artwork showcases more faraway places, but ones that are healing. Barbara Erdmann of South Norwalk has her large-scale photography on display in the hospital, showing scenes of the south of France.
“I like to think of my photos as feel-good photos,” said Erdmann, who worked as a candy striper in Stamford Hospital when she was younger and now gives proceeds from her work to charitable causes like the hospital.
Not only is the art calming in its subject matter but in its design. Andrea Bonfils of Darien has been doing encaustic paintings for 18 years, a practice that involves dripping hot wax over oil paintings. Bonfils incorporated circles into her piece that is displayed in a conference room at the hospital, inspired by the seasonal circadian rhythms.
From the encaustic paintings to photo murals to oil paintings, the art plays a significant role in the new hospital and its presence is felt throughout, even as the building was being built.
“Even the construction workers said the art is changing the building,” said Sachs.
Passersby on the street unfortunately cannot take advantage of the art, but interested patients and their visitors can go to Stamfordhealth.org and download the Stamford Health Find My Way app that provides more information about the art, as well as directions to and around the new hospital.