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‘Healing Hands’ Pays Tribute to Human Spirit of Hospitals

Robert BarnumBIG RAPIDS – Robert Barnum, a professor of Fine Arts at Ferris State University, sees public art as “a mirror … a reflection of a time and place as defined by an individual artist.”

From this vision springs Barnum’s newest work of art, “Healing Hands.” This newest addition to The Michigan Art Walk will be unveiled at the Mecosta County Medical Center Ice Cream Social at 6:05 p.m. June 18 in Centennial Triangle Park. “Healing Hands” is the first installment of the second phase of the Art Walk Project and is an artistic recognition of the hard-working efforts of the men and women who make the hospital an important part of the community, Barnum said.

“Hospitals and health facilities offer a unique humanist character as a business,” said Barnum, who is Ferris’ resident artist and a 2003 recipient of the Michigan Artist of the Year Award. “The industry is technology driven, but works or evolves by the realization that human touch and human contact may be the most powerful healing force on our Earth.”

The Michigan Art Walk is a collection of artwork, on Ferris’ Big Rapids campus, created by award-winning Michigan artists. This diverse collection of art includes sculptures, paintings and one of the largest free-standing canvases in the United States. “Healing Hands” is a continuation of the Michigan Art Walk that takes the project off campus and into the Big Rapids community.

Barnum explained that, “‘Healing Hands’ is part of a public art design and program I call the Lantern Project. The Lantern Project has a projected goal of five sculptures in the community and two or three on campus. Each one of these Lantern sculptures will have an interior light that presents this sculpture in the technical character of an old fashion lantern.”

The effort and vision that will turn Barnum’s dream into reality is part of a bond that strengthens Ferris’ relationship with the Big Rapids community as the University celebrates its 125th anniversary, he noted. Adding to the uniqueness of the project is the collaboration between Ferris Fine Arts and Welding students, who work collaboratively to bring theses visions of art to life.

“Each one of these sculptures we created on campus requires new techniques and technology,” Barnum said. “It is this real-world, hands-on approach to creative design and problem solving that is the base for the resident art and resident artist agenda.”

The community is warmly embracing this effort. The Healing Hands sculpture is a Festival of the Arts funded project

“We are proud that MCMC has been chosen as the site for the sculptures installation and we look forward to the unveiling and dedication on June 18,” said Mecosta County Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Sam Daugherty, who saluted this collaborative effort that includes MCMC and Ferris, as well as local and statewide art communities. “Special thanks to professor Robert Barnum and his students, as well as to (Welding Engineering Technology associate) professor David Murray and his students for bringing this creation to life and inspiring our efforts.”

Also during the ice cream social, local businesswoman Carlleen Rose will speak, followed by the unveiling, an announcement of the MCMC Auxiliary Scholarship recipients, recognition of the dessert of the month winner and a special announcement from local residents Karl and Cindy Linebaugh. The event concludes with a performance by the Ferris Community Band under the direction of conductor Scott Cohen.