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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Eskenazi Health Art Recognized Nationally

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One of the 19 artists commissioned to create original works for the Eskenazi Health campus has been recognized nationally for his efforts.

Rob Ley’s piece, titled “May/September,” a 12,000-square-foot sculptural piece located on the south end of the Eskenazi Health Parking Garage, was selected as a 2015 Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review award recipient, the highest recognition for public art in the United States.

On June 11, Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, honored 31 public art projects that were created in 2014. The PAN Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art. The works were chosen from more than 300 entries across the country and recognized at Americans for the Arts’ 2015 Annual Convention in Chicago

Last year, Adam Frank’s “Arbor,” a permanent art installation inside the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, was selected as a 2014 PAN award recipient. According to the Arts Council of Indianapolis, there have been only two other PAN award recipients from Indiana, Sean Derry’s “Charting Pogue’s Run” project was recognized in 2006, and the Indianapolis Public Library’s “thinmanlittlebird” sculpture by Peter Shelton was recognized in 2010.“May/September” includes approximately 6,500 multi-colored, metal “leaves” that offer pedestrians and onlookers a unique visual experience, depending on their vantage point and the pace at which they move past the site. Pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles within close proximity to the hospital, experience a noticeable shift in color and transparency as they move across the hospital grounds, while motorists driving along Michigan Street experience a faster, gradient color shift, which changes depending on their direction of travel.

The color selection for the metal leaves was both intentional and thoughtful. With one side gold and the other indigo, the color of the metal leaves drew inspiration from T.C. Steele’s “Four Seasons,” part of the original art program that was installed at Indianapolis City Hospital more than 100 years ago. Meant to represent the changing of Indiana’s distinct seasons, the colors were also chosen to remain visible and vibrant throughout the year, even on the most snowy, overcast or rainy of days.

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

The piece was fabricated by Indianapolis Fabrications, or iFab, a locally owned and operated company that specializes in fine art fabrication, prototyping, limited-run custom design products, art conservation, restoration and more. This project, which had been several years in the making, has been so successful that Ley and iFab have already begun collaborating together on other art installations throughout the nation.

“When we were planning the Eskenazi Health campus, we knew we would need a substantial parking garage, but we also knew that parking garages do not typically contribute to a visually enjoyable and vibrant landscape,” said Matthew Gutwein, president and chief executive officer of Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County. “Our answer was to use the garage as a canvas for an art installation that would further change the landscape of not only our new campus, but also our neighborhood and our entire city. ‘May/September’ serves as a testament to the power of design, that even a parking garage can both functionally and aesthetically respond to a need and create something inspiring and beautiful.”

Ley, an artist and architect, founded Urbana Studio to engage innovative materials and formal approaches in developing environments that respond physically to human inhabitation and experience. The studio’s work often includes the fusing of highly textural forms with both natural and controlled light. Ley graduated with his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and with his master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles. With a vast background in architecture in public art, Ley is currently on the design faculty at the University of Southern California, teaching undergraduate and graduate studios and seminars on fabrication and digital technology.

“The ‘May/September’ piece was created with the awareness that it would be a very visible addition to both Eskenazi Health and the City of Indianapolis,” Ley said. “With the recent announcement of the PAN award, I am very excited to see the visibility of the work expand to a national level.”

The Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus opened on Dec. 7, 2013. Eskenazi Health offers a welcoming environment of health and healing through access to natural settings and an extensive art collection, which studies show contributes to improved health outcomes.

Following an extensive public engagement and comment process, Eskenazi Health’s art committee selected artists that represent the rich diversity of the Indianapolis community, including native Hoosiers and artists born or living in Indianapolis and artists representing women, minorities and people with disabilities. More than half – 57.8 percent – of the full art program comes from local Indiana artists, while 47 percent of the artists are minorities, 31.5 percent are female, 10.5 percent are veterans, 5.2 percent are individuals with disabilities and 5.2 percent are seniors. The Eskenazi Health Art Program has been funded by philanthropy through the Eskenazi Health Foundation.

The PAN awards, a program of Americans for the Arts, is designed to provide services to the diverse field of public art and to develop strategies and tools to improve communities through public art. The network’s constituents are public art professionals, visual artists, design professionals and communities and organizations planning public art projects and programs.

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