The James Art Gallery: Promoting Healing Through Beauty and Inspiration

The James Art Gallery

The James has always been filled with art, including the “Statue of Hope” sculpture outside the main entrance, the “Blue Beautiful Skies” mural on the ground floor and, a few steps down the hall, the “Clear and Gold Sconce” blown glass created by the famed Dale Chihuly.

“The idea of an extensive art program started with Dr. David Schuller,” says Caitlin Dennis, art program manager at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. “He pushed to have art here, everywhere, because research shows the healing benefits of art.”

The now-retired David Schuller, MD, is the former director and CEO of The James, and he later served as vice president of medical center expansion at The Ohio State University. In his latter position, he oversaw construction of the new James, which opened in 2014 to replace the original hospital that opened in 1990.

Schuller understood that art and beauty are good for the soul. His vision of a hospital filled with art that would lift the spirits of patients, their visiting families and friends, and staff members took another step forward on Feb. 16, 2018 with the grand opening of The James Art Gallery.

The large, welcoming exhibit space at the top of the grand staircase in The James’ lobby will feature rotating exhibits and artists with Ohio connections.

An Art Program Strategic Steering Committee was created to help guide the direction of the Art Program. The Committee includes representatives from The James, the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University Department of Art and the community.

The first exhibit in the new gallery featured local artist Paul Hamilton, whose work is familiar to those who have walked through The James. “Blue Beautiful Skies” is a large mural consisting of 96 individually-painted panels that combine to create a sweeping landscape of The James Garden of Hope at Ohio State’s nearby Waterman Farm. Hamilton, a graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design, created this work in honor of a friend who was treated at The James.

“Our program celebrates Ohio artists, and Paul’s work is like driving through the Ohio countryside,” Dennis says. “People can feel the connection.”

The gallery is attracting a steady stream of visitors, with more than 25 Ohio State student volunteers taking turns in the gallery to answer questions about the art, artists and the gallery itself.

“I love art and thought this would be a great experience,” says student volunteer Gurleen Vilkhu. “I’m a biomedical engineering major and want to go to medical school; I’d like to be an OB-GYN or an oncologist.”

While the gallery is the focal point for art at The James, it is only one of the many aspects of the art program. Dennis is enhancing the program’s website to include a virtual version of The James art collection, while The James Art Program Self-Guided Walking Tour brochure is available in the gallery. The brochure includes maps of the publicly-viewable art and descriptions of more than 30 donated and original pieces.

For example, there’s a guitar autographed by Sheryl Crow in the Carole, Dave, Rebecca and Mike Schuller Family Visitor Lounge on the 21st floor, and a Hummel Figurine Collection in the 15th floor visitor lounge.

“It’s so important to have beautiful things here in their healing environment,” Dennis says.

For more information about the new gallery and art at The James: cancer.osu.edu/artprogram