Artist immortalizes atrium at University of Chicago Hospitals

Artist immortalizes atrium at University of Chicago Hospitals

January 5, 2006

On January 6, 2006, New York artist Audrey Ushenko, a member of the National Academy of Design and a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Ft. Wayne, IN, will put the finishing touches on her large-scale oil painting of the three-story atrium of the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine at the University of Chicago Hospitals and the staff, patients, and visitors who pass through it.

As part of the Art-in-the-Hospital program at the Hospitals, Ushenko--who is also committed to art education--has been working very publicly on the painting since spring of 2005. She began with drawings of the architecture and sketches of volunteer patients and staff. Over the summer, she composed the larger painting and began to transfer details from the sketches to the painting, which is about five-feet wide and eight-feet tall.

For months, Hospitals staff, patients, and visitors have able to watch the entire process. Many have offered to pose for sketches, and about 25 now appear in the nearly final version.

Ushenko first noticed the space when she brought her husband for a clinic visit. She was immediately impressed by the atrium's bright, open appearance and natural light. Over the course of several visits she also came to appreciate the magnitude of the ongoing human drama being quietly played out day after day in each of the specialty clinics that open onto the atrium.

At the same time, patients and staff have been able to observe the artistic process, watch a professional artist at work and ask questions as Ushenko makes decisions about the painting and works on the details.

"Many people have taken a lasting interest in the work," Ushenko said. "They stop by to see how it's coming, what's changed since their last visit. Patients tell me it's a nice distraction, something cheering and peaceful, unrelated to their medical issues. They look forward to seeing the project advance. Many say it can make treatment easier."

Ushenko hopes to complete the work by Friday, January 6, 2006. Once it is done, it will probably be displayed in the Hospitals for several months. Then it will be shipped to her gallery, Denise Bibro Fine Art of New York, NY, and sold. Negotiations with a potential buyer are already underway.