Art project aims to help patients at children’s hospital
By Billy Anania from the Asbury Park Press
A prominent Monmouth County hospital is taking an innovative approach to public art with the help of a local artist and volunteers.
K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune is improving the landscape just outside their windows with painted murals. The project is spearheaded by Lucy Kalian, a painter from Rumson who previously worked on the hospital’s advisory board.
Kalian is known for her work as a fine artist, but this new project is a more graphic concept for the children’s hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (a member of the Meridian Health family). She believes that these paintings can provide a different type of treatment for young patients.
“I really think that if we can help improve the emotional and physical health of children, then we could help improve the emotional and physical health of the world going forward,” she said. “They’re fostering our future, and if they’re feeling good then they’re going to bring that good out to the rest of the world.”
The rooms that overlook the roof are part of the pediatric intensive care unit, with regular pediatrics located on the above floor. Kalian and volunteers have spent weeks developing fun and interactive ideas for ailing children.
The original concept was to paint over the windows because of all the unsightly mechanical equipment right outside. But over time, Kalian claims, the project evolved and expanded.
“We were trying to think of different ways to beautify the outdoor area right here,” she said. “And I figured the mechanicals are already here, so let’s just do something with them. I thought since this is Jersey Shore University Medical Center that we would work with the Jersey Shore theme.”
The artist is now painting Shore-themed imagery and symbolism right onto the industrial
equipment. Along one metallic structure, Kalian has portrayed the coast of New Jersey from Sandy Hook to Barnegat Light, which is the hospital’s primary coverage area. Kalian included different dots along map that correlate with different towns.
Young patients will be able to access a digital map via hospital-provided iPads, with which they can find their own towns, answer questions about rivers and other bodies of water, read about lighthouses and more.
Another piece of industrial equipment depicts a sequence of nautical flags from left to right. Children can use key cards showing different letters for each flag, and decode a secret message through the arrangement of symbols.
Other creative ideas to come include paintings of Jersey Shore birds, a giant seahorse, bubbles, fish and more. Kalian plans to continue the project as long as she has volunteers and surface to cover.
“I see this as an ongoing project, and we’re just going to keep going until we run out of surface,” she said. “Everybody’s thinking about their health all of the time. This will give them a bit of a diversion.”