Employee Art Exhibit Spotlights Creativity
Aug 25, 2021 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Staff, patients and visitors to Cedars-Sinai are accustomed to seeing world-class works by contemporary artists. Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol grace the walkways and courtyards of the medical center.
But since early August, people in the medical center can now enjoy artwork made by employees.
Nearly 70 employees responded to a call for original artwork and contributed paintings, photographs and needlepoints to a first-of-its-kind exhibit at Cedars-Sinai. The exhibit, which received pieces from doctors, nurses, scientists, pharmacists, data analysts and more, will remain on display in the North Tower Plaza Level until January 2022.
"This exhibit is a chance for everybody—everybody who is involved with Cedars-Sinai, whether it is somebody who works in the cafeteria, works in parking, a doctor—this is their chance to have their art hung on the walls."
"There is a lot of hidden talent here," said John Lange, manager of Art Curation at Cedars-Sinai. "This is a great opportunity to share what these folks do, and I like the idea we are engaging our own employees and own staff in a meaningful way."
Prior to the pandemic, Antonia Marcelino, a lead EIS trainer, had never painted. To ease anxiety after work, she began painting using a paint-by-numbers kit she ordered on Amazon. Her works include a monochromatic rendering of a canoe on a lake, which her colleague, Tamara Clark, also an EIS trainer, urged her to submit to the exhibition.
"It was really a great reprieve from what was happening," Antonia said of the experience painting. She has been an employee for nearly 30 years.
While the work of artists was not judged, participants were asked to abide by various criteria, including limiting their submissions to two-dimensional pieces and contributing artwork respectful of a healing environment.
Some contributors offered pieces simply depicting what they love. For example, Diane Gewertz, a volunteer in the Cedars-Sinai POOCH Volunteer Program, shared a recent painting she made of her golden doodle, Madison. Tamara Clark, an amateur photographer, submitted a photograph of a peacock she took at the Philadelphia Zoo.
But other participants found creative fire from their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagery from the pandemic can be seen in some of their artwork, Lange said.
"A few of them are literal translations of what their experience with COVID-19 was—or maybe it is a painting of a nurse with their mask on and things like that—while for others, the pandemic was the catalyst for them to start making work for the first time, or to revisit and make more art," John said.
John also contributed a small piece to the exhibition—an abstract, conceptual work speaking to the ever-changing landscape of Los Angeles. Responsible for overseeing Cedars-Sinai's 4,000-piece collection of museum-quality artwork, he said creating art in his home studio this past year provided a welcome relief from the pressures of the pandemic.
"It's been a coping mechanism for me to be able to just shut the door of my garage and focus on something else and just kind of tune out," John said. "And, you know, just get that moment of disconnect from the news and from everything else that's happening."
While patients, visitors and staff can see masterpieces hanging on the hospital walls and installed throughout the medical campus, Diane said it was important to provide employees the opportunity to showcase their talents alongside the greats.
"This exhibit is a chance for everybody—everybody who is involved with Cedars-Sinai, whether it is somebody who works in the cafeteria, works in parking, a doctor—this is their chance to have their art hung on the walls," said Diane, a member of the Cedars-Sinai Advisory Council for the Arts, which organized the exhibition.