Alex Mooney is a staff writer for The Hoya.
A new art installation was unveiled Wednesday evening at the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center. The installation, entitled “Freize,” is part of the center’s goal to display original artwork for its beneficial and healing effects on patients.
Consisting of 11 squares of color framed in white, the monotypes, or blocks of solid color, were created by Sam Gilliam, an artist who has had work displayed in venues including the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. He is described by the Lombardi Center as a “pioneer of both Color Field and abstract painting.”
“Frieze invites viewers to experience the Lombardi atrium as both a place of contemplation and a hive of activity,” the center wrote in a press release announcing the event. “While each monotype celebrates the beauty and power of color, together they create a backdrop for the ever-changing and fast-paced world of healthcare.”
Reaffirming the importance of the center’s goals, Morgan Kulesza, a program coordinator for Georgetown’s Lombardi Arts and Humanities program, said when patients visit the center they’re “usually very anxious,” and the “art is just a way to breathe,” helping patients cope with the types of stressful situations that usually occur in the center.
“The Arts and Humanities Program studies the use of arts to improve the patient experience including symptom management, coping skills, and stress reduction,” the center wrote in a statement displayed at the event.
A site-specific installation, the ‘Freize’ exhibit will add the desired effect to the center’s space, Kulesza said.
“The goal is to eliminate a very sad experience where there’s not a lot of color,” Kulesza said. “This piece is really great because his [Gilliam’s] artwork supports the environment here and helps make it lighter and brighter and happier.”
Other artwork appears in the Lombardi Center as well, including pieces like the sculpture “Resurrection,” which was created by a 14-year-old patient of the center.
“It’s important to let the people who spend a lot of time in this hospital convey their feelings,” Kulesza said.
The blending of art with care at the Lombardi Center is key to its goals of uplifting patients’ spirits during stressful and difficult times. In addition to commissioning art for the center, Lombardi’s Arts and Humanities Program cooperates with professional artists-in-residence to produce events like The Poetry Café, where patients and artists share poems and songs, and Lombardi Voices, a magazine of work from members of the Lombardi Community.
“The center wants not only to support people in this environment, but to help those people express themselves,” Kulesza said.