Annual Staff Art Exhibit entries showcase creativity, personal reflection

Creative works celebrating inner strength, body equality and life’s little moments are just a few of the diverse entries featured in this year’s annual Staff Art Exhibit for the University of Chicago Medicine health system and the Biological Sciences Division.

The show featured a total of 150 photographs, paintings and mixed media works, providing an opportunity to spotlight the artistic talents of employees, as well as their immediate family members.

“My favorite aspect of this show is the interaction of staff members talking about their work and the numerous stories shared about their enjoyment of creating art and their inspirations,” said Monica Hork, coordinator of UChicago Medicine’s Healing Arts Program, which brings fine arts and music to the medical campus to share with patients, visitors, staff and the community.

Notable this year was the variety in artists’ materials and scope, Hork said. She cited a Vincent van Gogh-inspired scene created with bottle caps, a creation made from pills and more 3D pieces and large-size paintings and photographs.

Seven works were awarded top honors. Among the winners was Saryah Dixon, family of UChicago Medicine’s Serena Dixon — whose painting, “Take a Look at Yourself,” examined her sometimes-crippling anxiety — took home the Educational Scholarship Award. Shannon Hocker’s photograph “American Woman” portrays how cosmetics, sugar and women’s bodies are used to sell a product, winning the adult professional division. She is the business administrator at Duchossois Family Institute.

Teen first-place winner, Nived Karthik, family of UCM’s staff member Anitha Govind, said he wanted his piece, “Common Kingfisher,” a quick, beautiful bird, to be a good representative of the times. “Just like the Kingfisher, the times we grow up in can sometimes seem to flash by lightning fast,” Karthik said.

“If we don’t take the time to relinquish and cherish the small memories, we could end up forgetting the most beautiful things that make life worth living.”

Best in Show went to Dennis Harder’s painting, "Marine Iguana," inspired by his trip to the Galápagos Islands. He is family of UChicago Medicine’s Ellen Harder.

The Staff Art Exhibit began in 2003, with cash awards and ribbons provided by the National Arts Program Foundation. UChicago Medicine was the first healthcare provider in Illinois to incorporate the program, which is one of now more than 450 sites throughout the country highlighting employee art.

Professional Chicago artists judge the exhibit and choose winners in several categories. This year’s panel included painter and photographer Mel Theobald; Patric McCoy, co-founder and president of Diasporal Rhythms, a nonprofit arts organization; and painter Kathleen Waterloo.