About a year ago, Meredith Miller ART ’03 — a photographer for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library — began to search for a meaningful home for her art. During time she spent in various regional hospitals, Miller had experienced firsthand the uplifting impact of art in medical spaces, so she approached administrators at Yale Health about not only donating her photographs for display, but also establishing a permanent collection at the facility featuring the work of numerous artists.
“I’ll always remember Dr. Tennyson breaking the ice — he said something like ‘art is part of the human experience, and it should be here at the health plan,’” Miller said of a Yale Health physician whom she contacted while preparing the exhibition. “I was sort of blown away. Lots of people have great ideas all of the time, and I was amazed at how the Yale Health plan was so excited from the very beginning.”
After a year of coordination, Yale Health’s first art show was installed the weekend of Feb. 16. Art created and donated by various members of the Yale community now adorns the walls of Yale Health’s public spaces.
Miller spearheaded the project and gathered a committee with members from across the University, including artists, physicians and Yale faculty members from across disciplines. The committee reached out to Yale-affiliated artists in order to center the collection around the community and differentiate it from other art collections at Yale.
Miller noted that the committee-building process was at times “totally random.” For example, after Google searching Yale artists, Miller came across an article about open studios that led her to Kyle Kearson, a museum installer at the Yale Center for British Art. Other committee members and artists came from different areas of Miller’s life — including her partner Rob Rock, her past teaching assistant Hannah Price ART ’14 and her coworker at the Beinecke MaryJane Millington.
Miller also installed two of her own photographs in the exhibit. The two photos are from Miller’s collection entitled “The Secret Lives of Rooms,” in which she observes “a presence in absence of inhabitants, an energy existing among inanimate objects.” Miller noted that many of the photos in this collection remind her of a space she encountered in her childhood.
Though many of the artworks showcased were produced by faculty and graduates of the Yale School of Art, the exhibit also includes work by undergraduates. For example, Katharine Li’s ’21 painting “In My Room” is displayed in the front lobby. Li painted “In My Room” while enrolled in Molly Zuckerman-Hartung’s painting basics course last semester and describes the work as “effortful, boiling and free.”
“I feel so indescribably lucky to have my work displayed where so many people can see it as part of an exhibit that includes so many talented and accomplished artists,” Li said. “I have been attending counseling sessions through Yale Mental Health & Counseling since last semester; seeing my work in the lobby before I go up the elevator to the third floor has only added positively to that weekly trip.”
Most of the works on display are two-dimensional, such as paintings, photographs and textiles. Still, Frances Osugi, a library conservation assistant who primarily produces art made out of books, donated her three-dimensional work “Pineapple Pattern,” which now resides on the second floor of Yale Health.
Osugi said that the work was “created in the wake of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as a testament to my maternal grandmother’s perseverance and healing.” Osugi’s love of books permeates both her professional life in library conservation and her professional artistic passions. She noted that paper is her primary medium due to its “sensate expressiveness” and ability to tell stories.
“To me, [participating in the exhibit] is being a tiny part of the wellness mission at Yale,” Osugi said. “The place itself has so many people from all walks of life through its hallways and corridors and is such a stunning building. Personalizing the health plan campus with staff-generated works of art seemed like a natural fit.”
This is the first art exhibit to occupy spaces in the Yale Health facility since the building’s completion in the summer of 2010, but the committee does not intend for it to be the last. Miller has considered curating rotating exhibitions and providing opportunities for the Yale community to purchase some works on display.
Yale Health is located at 55 Lock Street.
Rianna Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org