I was approached in January of this year by Allison Davis, head of marketing at West Georgia Health Systems here in LaGrange. WGHS is at the tail end of completing a major addition ("In addition to providing a new “front door” to health system, the four-story South Tower will include expansions of West Georgia Health System’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiovascular Services, Labor and Delivery and the Emergency Departments"). To honor the architect of the expansion plan, hospital president and CEO Jerry Fulks, Allison and the executive board were interested in commissioning a large public work for the new lobby.
After lots of back and forth concerning image, size, placement, etc., our work was installed this week, just in time for the South Tower grand opening. The image is "Groundbreaking", oil on linen, 48" x 72" and will hang on the second floor of the new lobby, looking down onto the ground floor. CEO Fulks is the figure standing the farthest forward in the darkest suit.
While I wasn't originally super excited about the reference photo we used...
...a longer look brought me alot to get excited about. While each of the figures is basically upright, there is lots of great 'physical personality' here from man to man. I also love the slightly shifting repetition of the hands, shovel handles, and hard hats which create a quirky, stuttering rhythm across the composition. We used the plaid underpainting as a tongue-in-cheek reference to men's suiting material. All in all I'm very excited about how it turned out.
We were honored to take on this project and honored further still by the artists we will be hanging beside in the hospital. WGHS has gone out of its way to feature original art, mostly by local and regional artists, in the new wing. We will be sharing walls with Guthrie Killebrew, Melinda Clair, Maragaret Reneke, Lamar Dodd, Keith Rasmussen, Vee Brown, Terri Codlin, and many more. In addition to purchasing local work and presenting works from the hospital's own coffers, they will be partnering with the LaGrange Art Museum to feature works from their permanent collection. While some states require that a certain percentage of the cost of new public building should go toward art, Georgia is not one of those. Kudos to WGHS and Ellerbe Beckett for going above and beyond.