Jackson Hospital looks to ASU for 'Healing Art Collection' artwork

(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: May. 2, 2018 at 6:33 PM CDT
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Jamie Harris' piece seeks to fill a void in African-American artwork. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Jamie Harris' piece seeks to fill a void in African-American artwork. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Tessa Tallakson's piece evokes the warmth and comfort of home as she leaves for college....
Tessa Tallakson's piece evokes the warmth and comfort of home as she leaves for college. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Hospital hallways are often cold and uninviting places, and those visiting a loved one in the hospital often find it to be a stressful or traumatic experience. Anything that can relieve that stress, even if only for a brief moment, is one of the goals of the non-profit Jackson Hospital Foundation in Montgomery.

Artwork, specifically by local artists, is one of the tools the hospital uses in its "Healing Art Collection" or, as JHF President Janet McQueen refers to it, "the museum you thought you'd never have to visit."

The collection started "to provide an environment for our patients and our patients' family members to take their minds off of their problems, and to take their minds off of the loved one's problems, and it's had a fantastic reaction from the community," McQueen explained.

Wednesday, McQueen and two JHF Board judges visited the Alabama State University to acquire new works of art created by students of ASU's College of Visual and Performing Arts. They critiqued multiple pieces at the Tullibody Fine Arts Center before settling on two works that will soon hang in the hospital's halls.

The two paintings chosen for the collection include a comfortable living room scene, as well as an African-American man having brunch.

Artist Jamie Harris of Notasulga created the brunch piece. An avid visitor of museums, her latest work is an attempt to fill a void. She says works focusing on the African-American community tend to place them in political positions or in insubordinate roles such as slavery. She wanted to focus on something "leisurely" with "fashion".

It's "beautifully in the middle" she said of her work.

Tessa Tallakson of Opelika focused her skills on the living room piece with its tidy and warm interior. She'll soon be off to school in Philadelphia and says she's getting sad about leaving home. Her dad built the house and some of the furniture she recreated on canvass.

"It's just special to me and I hope it'll be special and comforting to patients coming to Jackson Hospital," Tallakson said.

This is the first time JHF has come to ASU to acquire pieces. It already had a collaboration with nearby Auburn University Montgomery.

"This opportunity came about due to my personal artistic involvement with Jackson Hospital," said Elana Hagler, assistant professor in the ASU Department of Visual Arts. "They already have my painting 'Tajma' in their collection, and I recently completed a pastel commission of their longtime administrator, Dr. Don Ball," she added.

It was at that point when Hagler and the Foundation started to work on the idea of using some of the ASU students' artwork in the hospital's collection. Wednesday, the idea became a reality.

"We are grateful for the Jackson Hospital Foundation's support of our students and hope to continue working together to benefit both our students and Jackson Hospital's patients who have drawn much-needed comfort from the art that is found in the hospital's hallways," Hagler said.

The art isn't just beautiful. "It helps the patients in the most magnificent way," McQueen admitted. "Not a day goes by that my heart just doesn't leap when I see people admiring a work, and their problems are heavy. The people are in the hospital facing grave diagnoses...and we have given them an oasis."

If you're interested in seeing all the artwork of the Healing Art Collection, there's a guide in the hospital lobby, or you can find it here.

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