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Arts & Culture

At University Hospital, Art Is Part Of The Healing Process

Nestled between the blocky buildings of the South Texas Medical Center are many works of public art.  I was told about a new one just installed, and tracked down the artist who did it to ask about the motivation behind his art and its placement in the Medical Center. Sculptor George Schroeder is known internationally, but locals will recognize his Museum Reach bridge sculptures, the entrance gate to Brackenridge Park, and other works. I asked him about the reasoning behind his metal sculpture nearly finished in the Medical Center.

"They wanted art to be part of the healing process. There’s a large retaining wall next to the Emergency Room, and they had that area chosen for an art component."

Because of the location, Schroeder said the stipulations for the twelve by sixty-foot design were pretty specific.

"It couldn’t be a real radical design, it had to be calming," he explained, "Sort of a serene quality. The idea is that it resembles the liquids of our bodies, the water, the blood. We’re all a part of this flowing sort of life cycle. The sculpture represents that.”  

Schroeder submitted a deceptively simple-looking design that he said was anything but simple to build.

“There’s a hundred and eighty panels that are twenty-four inch by twenty-four inch.  Each particular piece of metal has its own shape.”

He laughed when I said: “You didn’t have enough difficult stipulations as it was? You had to make it to where each piece was completely made for that particular square?

“Exactly! They’re not interchangeable at all!”

The building process was grueling. Then came installation. Describing the process, Schroeder said, “It was what we call a full mock-up at the studio, then it was disassembled, loaded on eighteen wheelers, trucked to the site, off-loaded with cranes and re-assembled to its exact configuration."

If you want to see it, it’s located at the new University Hospital on Medical Drive.