WILLIAMSPORT- As Susquehanna Health opens the door to its new, state-of-the-art Susquehanna Tower, patient care facilities constructed with innovative, environmentally-conscious design to provide the best care and hope for its patients, the health system also unveils a collection of nearly 300 works of art displayed not merely to enhance aesthetics but to promote healing.
“Art in healing spaces is very important,” explained SH Artwork Advisory Committee spokesperson Roger Shipley. “I think you will find as you walk through the tower that the artwork definitely highlights the space.”
A practicing fine artist and Emeritus Professor of Art at Lycoming College, Shipley is a founding member of the Bald Eagle Art League, has served on the board of the Williamsport Lycoming Arts Council, is a member of the review committee for the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s art gallery and has a strong local art connection.
About 70 artists who live and work within a 50-mile radius of Williamsport are represented in the works displayed in Susquehanna Tower. Placed in the main lobby, public spaces and patient care areas these unique and vibrant pieces of art include ceramic tiles, paintings, photographs, sculptures and textiles. A ceiling sculpture in the tower’s main lobby was created by Rob Fisher Sculptures, LLC, Bellefonte, a studio that boasts displays in atrium space from California to Washington, DC to Hong Kong.
According to Shipley, Williamsport and the surrounding region is blessed with talented artists.
“That’s one of the things about Williamsport. It wasn’t difficult to find artists who have created the quality of work that we were seeking,” he said. “Susquehanna Health has a wonderful collection of various styles of artwork, that is reflective of the area, displayed within the hospital setting.”
Reactions to the artwork that is on display at the other two SH hospital campuses has been very positive, according to Shipley. Original works of art were also placed in the SH Cancer Center, Breast Health Center and Divine Providence Hospital lobby and hallways as well as the Muncy Valley Hospital lobby, dining area and in the hallways and patient care areas on the second floor.
“I’m very happy to see such diversity in the selections that are on display and have even noticed that people are choosing their favorites,” he said.
Susquehanna Health’s pursuit of and investment in its collection of art is a win-win-win, according to Shipley. Viewing the artwork benefits patients, families and caregivers. The collection also benefits the local artists whose works are on display for others to enjoy. In addition, the artwork appreciates in value while it is appreciated by viewers for many years to come.
“I’m very thankful for Susquehanna Health’s commitment to this idea of showing the original work of regional artists, rather than seeking artists or purchasing reprints of artwork from other areas of the country,” explained Shipley.
In 2007, SH President and CEO Steve Johnson organized an artwork advisory committee consisting of locally respected art professionals to help identify local artists and an art consultant to assist with building the SH collection and place artwork from regional artists in the three hospital campus locations. The committee developed a list of local artists from contacts in the art community and those obtained after publicizing a search in a local newspaper. Initially, more than 150 artists were contacted to begin building the collection.
“It is a pretty remarkable thing overall and really Steve Johnson’s vision,” said art consultant Leslie Watkins, president of The Art Partnership Inc., Jenkintown.
Watkins refers to the display of artwork in healthcare settings as positive distraction.
“(Art) allows people to take their minds away from a difficult situation with which they are struggling to think about something else,” she explained. “That is my hope.”