Caring and art come together at University Health Services
One of the campus’ newest artworks was recently unveiled, but not in a gallery, or on a public lawn. This creation – a handcrafted ceramic tile mural nearly nine feet long – will be found amongst the clinics and caregivers of University Health Services (UHS). The work is a lasting tribute to staff honored through the center’s employee recognition program.
The result of collaboration between UHS and the Art, Architecture and Art History department, the mural was made public at a ceremony on the health center’s lower level.
Employees named “Catch of the Month” receive recognition including a photo display and written tribute. But Director of Finance, Human Resources and Planning Maria T. Coach and other health center leaders wanted a more permanent celebration of these outstanding team members – one that echoed the organization’s vibrant spirit and unique educational mission. After learning about a tile mural created for the Newman Center Café on campus, UHS contacted Professor Frank Ozereko with an idea for a commissioned work.
Health center representatives met with Ozereko and students Brenda Lilly, Victoria Perez and Caroline Martin to discuss concepts, review designs and approve plans. The artists then began creating individual tiles, using techniques including embossing, bas relief and mosaic. These were glazed, fired and test-assembled in their Monson Annex studio before being brought to UHS for marathon sessions with mastic and grout.
At UHS, a workplace philosophy known as FISH is both an acronym for “First in Student Health” and a belief that work can be fun, serious and fulfilling. Echoing that theme, the mural features colorful aquatic life in a tranquil, azure sea. Swirling throughout the scene are the names of more than 20 staff members, along with key principles of the FISH culture. The mural’s prominent location along one of UHS’ main entrances welcomes art lovers and patients alike.
Although the creators worked on the mural for the better part of a semester, the work is far from complete. As more UHS employees are honored, their names will become part of new panels created and installed by future student artists.
The community is invited to view the mural during regular UHS operating hours; visit the UHS website, www.umass.edu/uhs, for the current schedule.