Artist Dale Chihuly will bring his vibrant works of art to patients, families and staff at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center when it opens in the spring of 2017. Chihuly, a pioneer of the studio glass movement and considered to be one of the world’s foremost artists working in glass today, will create an installation known as The Chihuly Sanctuary inside the cancer center.

With a background in architecture, Chihuly has always had a keen interest in space and light. This project was of particular interest to the artist because of the healing and meditative aspect his artwork could bring to patients and families.

“I really wanted to create a space for people to meditate and find a moment of peace,” says Chihuly, who hopes the artwork is a welcome addition to the cancer center and to the city.

Two Nebraska Medicine lymphoma patients, Marcia O’Donovan and Elena Sullivan, were on-site to help unveil the designs Oct. 19, adding a special touch to the announcement.

Lymphoma patients Elena Sullivan and Marcia O'Donovan unveiled the images for the Chihuly Sanctuary.

Lymphoma patients Elena Sullivan and Marcia O’Donovan unveiled the images for the Chihuly Sanctuary.

Made possible with a gift from Suzanne and Walter Scott, The Chihuly Sanctuary will be a cornerstone of the Healing Arts Program. When complete, it will have five distinct spaces, each with artwork created specifically for that space.

An internationally acclaimed artist, Chihuly is credited with single-handedly elevating glass-blowing from craft to fine art. He is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens.

Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, UNMC chancellor and chairman of the Nebraska Medicine Advisory Board, says The Chihuly Sanctuary will be an integral part of the Healing Arts Program, which is being developed using evidence-based research to aid in the healing of patients.

“We are fortunate to have Mr. Chihuly’s art as a part of our campus,” says Dr. Gold. “I have no doubt that the brilliant colors and innovative shapes he’s come to be known for will serve as an inspiration to our patients on their journey toward healing, and to our staff and students as we travel on this journey together.”

Dr. Gold speaks with Ashley Long, a member of the Chihuly team, regarding the healing benefits and artist’s vision. Video

From reduced pain perception, anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression to providing new insight and clarify feelings about a cancer diagnosis and treatment, the Healing Arts Program will include the most motivating and meaningful works of art to help heal the human spirit.

“Art can have a very positive effect on the healing process,” says Kenneth Cowan, MD, PhD, director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. “Having beautiful, peaceful and creative pieces by one of the most talented artists in the world today, as one of the cornerstones of our Healing Arts Program, gives me great confidence that we are doing everything possible to help our patients heal emotionally, as well as physically.”

While Chihuly’s artwork can be found in a number of hospitals across the country, this will be one of the largest installations he has created within a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

“This small corner of the city is well on its way to becoming a world-class medical center so we thought it was worthy of some world-class art,” says Walter Scott, lead donor.

“We know patients will have high expectations for the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” says Gail Yanney, MD, Healing Arts Program committee member. “The Chihuly Sanctuary is being designed to surpass those expectations in every possible way. We’re hopeful it will let patients know how committed we are to healing on a number of different levels.”

The Chihuly Sanctuary joins the previously announced Leslie’s Healing Garden and the commissions of artists Rob Ley and Suzy Taekyung Kim in forming the Healing Arts Program at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. It’s anticipated that hundreds more original works of art will eventually round out the program – all designed to provide patients, staff and visitors with inspiration, comfort and calm, while also creating an atmosphere that feels distinctly different from the traditional hospital setting.

An artist's rendering of the Chihuly Sanctuary.

An artist’s rendering of the Chihuly Sanctuary.

“It has been an honor and a rewarding challenge for me to work on The Chihuly Sanctuary,” says Chihuly, “I’m really looking forward to everything coming together—soon everyone will be able to enjoy the artwork and the space.”

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Chihuly shares his vision of the The Chihuly Sanctuary in this video.