Exhibit featured in UA medical center

Exhibit featured in UA medical center

“A Sense of Place” is an exhibit on display at the University Medical Center through the Wellness Walls For Art program. Photo Courtesy of Deborah Hughes

Margaret Wilbourne

While patients and prescriptions are typically associated with doctors’ offices, the local Wellness Walls for Art program, founded last year, continues to tack on paintings to this list with their current exhibit, “A Sense of Place.” Displayed in the halls of the University Medical Center, the paintings are created by
local artists.

“The paintings are typically on display for three months, and have different themes,” said Deborah Hughes, a local artist who is the current curator Wellness Walls for Art. “[The works in] ‘A Sense of Place’ are mostly plein air, [or painted outside], and are meant to evoke memories of [special] places.”

Hughes coordinates Tuscaloosa and University painters for exhibitions, often inviting a guest artist. The guest this time was Meridian, Mississippi-based artist Cooper French, a high school classmate of Hughes. While French has always had an artistic career, it wasn’t always attached to canvases.

“I was a restoration painter in the White House for 18 and a half years,” he said. “I went in under Reagan and retired under George Bush. My wife told me, ‘If you’re going to be an artist, you’d better start now.’”

French shared his paintings from a trip to Wyoming for the exhibit, most depicting mountains and other outdoor scenes.

French’s pieces are joined by 17 other artists, and depict scenes ranging from woodlands to the abstract. While each differ visually, they all carry a similar importance, because Hughes said she is a big believer in the power of art to deliver a sense of optimism in what can be a stressful or 
depressing environment.

“When I go to see a doctor, you know, it’s not fun when you have those stacks of bad magazines,” she said. “[That’s why] we like to do this, and have things that aren’t disturbing, but uplifting.”

Dawn Hodo, a UA Continuing Medical Education program assistant, said the art served as a visual treat not only to UMC’s patients, but also to the staff at the center.

“This to me, patients, and [staff], is what makes [UMC] homey,” Hodo said.

The exhibit runs through April 7.