My Favorite Artwork: Employees Reflect on Art and Healing
Aug 23, 2021 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Is it possible to experience some of the world's greatest artworks when you work at a hospital? At Cedars-Sinai, it is!
Works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and other luminaries are all part of a collection of masterpieces that can inspire imagination, reduce stress and trigger healing. To celebrate American Artist Appreciation Month, we asked our employees to reflect on their favorite piece in the Cedars-Sinai art collection.
"These days when I come in to work, I take the back hallway on the Plaza Level after stopping for a temperature screening to see the artwork of Hockney, Calder, Ellwsorth Kelly, Jasper Johns and Lichtenstein. Yes, I walk past these works every day, but I still receive a pang of delight every time."
Name: Telma Thomassian-Lopez
Position: Sr. Administrative Assistant, Office of Licensure, Accreditation and Regulation
Favorite Artwork: Peter Zokosky, "Untitled (Clouds)", Oil on canvas, 1985, donated by Bobbi and Walter Zifkin
"I can sit in front of that painting for hours, taking in all the details: the grass, the clouds, the wind and the movement in the grass. The realism in this painting allows me to see the grass moving, feel the breeze that changes the shapes of the clouds. It pulls you in, and really does take you to the hill, atop that field, where your view of the house and all the land behind it seems infinite. It makes the viewer feel like you are lying down on the ground and looking straight at the sky, whittling your hours away.
It's like connecting with that sky and that earth, and remembering the constancy and the gentle power of nature and the universe we live in. I love it!"
Name: Virginia Bartlett, PhD
Position: Assistant Director, Center for Healthcare Ethics; Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences
Favorite Artwork: Raymond Pettibon prints, donated by Cynthia and Eddie Greenwald
One of the prints by the artist Raymond Pettibon shows a swath of blue paint above the words, "Yes, but alas, the blue sky has been repainted. By restoration, there is no telling how much you have lost."
I usually visit Pettibon's work on my way back from teaching rounds with the medical teams in the Intensive Care Unit. Alone after raw encounters with broken and ailing bodies and disrupted lives, I often seek out the reminder: Restoration may not be enough.
Pettibon's work asks us not to accept the illusion of restoration to what was before. It calls on us not to lose lessons and opportunities that emerge through adversity. It reminds us that sometimes, in the seemingly unimaginable, we find an invitation to imagine anyway: to see our way forward, further than where our fates have brought us, beyond where we started.
I have visited Pettibon's "Yes, but alas" hanging in its quiet hallway behind the chapel at least once a week since the pandemic began.
As I stand there, taking a minute to check myself, a thought revisits me: Maybe none of us, with our already strained bandwidth, can take on all the moral challenges raised by this pandemic. But perhaps we can take on some, or even one, of the concerns that we may not have recognized before.
Perhaps we can make space and time to accept and offer invitations to listen, whether in clinical or community contexts. We can think differently about our collective challenges, imagining beyond what we once thought we knew—not restoration, but regeneration.
There are so many pieces here that I just adore. Working at Cedars-Sinai is like walking into an amazing museum art gallery every day. But I think my favorite right now is the Picasso vase on the third floor by Labor and Delivery.
When I get called to an expectant mommy for support or reiki, I make sure I walk by it every time. I just LOVE it. I say to the piece, "Hello, friend." Once we are not in masks, I better remember to say it with my inside voice!
Name: Lorenzo D. San Pedro, MSN, RN
Position: Education Program Coordinator, Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Cancer Center
Favorite Artwork: Ernst Briggs, "June", 1983, oil on canvas, donated by Walter & Bobbi Zifkin
At first glance, the abstract piece looks raw, bold, disorganized and heavy. But as one looks closer, the equal values and hues of each color application and the random but harmonious geometric shape placements on the canvas seem to arouse a genuine emotional experience of serenity, balance and gratitude.
This painting offers viewers the complexity of human experiences and is akin to the multifaceted, meaningful emotions that cancer patients go through—from shock and disbelief, periods of distress marked with feelings of anxiety, anger and depression, to a more ideal sensation of gratitude and appreciation of the frailty of life.
To me, it represents the challenging struggles of cancer patients, their physicians and other members of their healthcare team—the emotional roller coaster, the anticipation of a patient's response to treatment that one needs to hold on, scream, yell, laugh, cry, inhale and exhale to make it through the rough ride of ups and downs and the peaks and valleys. And through it all, the experience redefines one's values and roles in life, which can also bring peace to a troubled mind.
Name: Christine J. Easterling
Position: Lead Administrative Assistant, Capacity Management
Favorite Artwork: Andy Warhol, various prints and serigraphs. Warhol donated a set of 10 hand-watercolored serigraphs in honor of Midge Gold, Marcia Simon Weisman's niece, who was recovering from an illness in the hospital at the time.
My background before working at Cedars-Sinai was imbedded in art. I studied media arts in college, worked for several years in television and apparel, and have enjoyed and appreciated arts in all forms all my life.
I was born here at Cedars-Sinai, raised here and two years ago my daughter Beverly (as in the hospital's street address) was born here as well. On her first days, I took her on her first art walk to see the Warhols. And it is Warhol's American Indian print who kept me company in line for my first COVID-19 vaccination.
These days when I come in to work, I take the back hallway on the Plaza Level after stopping for a temperature screening to see the artwork of Hockney, Calder, Ellwsorth Kelly, Jasper Johns and Lichtenstein. Yes, I walk past these works every day, but I still receive a pang of delight every time.
During these walks coming in to work, surrounded by greatness, it occurred to me that my place in this hospital is at the intersection of art and science, and there is a great need for both—for staff and patients.