At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, we’re focused on mastering the art of rehabilitation. This is evident with our commitment to leading-edge technologies and our creative approach to helping patients achieve the greatest independence humanly possible. But we also believe that art in and of itself can play an important role in the healing process. That’s why we incorporate art into the inpatient and outpatient environments throughout our campus.
Original Glass Art Installations
You may have noticed the colorful images adorning some of the pages throughout this website, as well as on printed materials and video signage. These are close-up photos of custom blown-glass art installations designed, produced and installed by artist Jerry Catania of Water Street Glassworks in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Jerry studied in the early ’70s at the Pilchuck Glass School under the direction of famed glass artists Dale Chihuly and Fritz Dreisbach. In addition to creating art, Jerry and the other Water Street faculty help to teach and inspire the next generation of glass artists.
Jerry’s nature-inspired pieces — flowers, vines, leaves — add a warm and inviting atmosphere to spaces throughout the hospital, such as near patient elevators and in the hallways. Strategic lighting helps to showcase the works and subtly draw the eye.
“The presence of art and good design has a power in it,” Jerry said. “When you put art in place you empower people and you remind them that they’re human.”
When the project is complete, 29 glass pieces will be installed throughout the Mary Free Bed campus, with 12 placed in the West Addition.
Colorful Surprises in Unexpected Places
Because every space can impact a patient or visitor’s experience, we’ve incorporated art into an area not typically known for engaging design: our parking garage. Here you’ll find a vibrant, 120-foot mural created by three student artists from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD).
The students — Jennifer Bafile (BFA in illustration/graphic design) Jason Betzing (MFA in painting) and Anthony Cairo (BFA in drawing/painting) — worked under the leadership of Katie Moore, KCAD’s Director of Community Engagement. Katie worked closely with Mary Free Bed to help design and oversee the completion of a Chihuly- and nature-inspired mural that would reflect the nurturing and positive culture of our hospital.
“We wanted it to be a bright, welcoming piece,” Katie said.
Artistic Touches Around Every Corner
You’ll find many other examples of original art throughout our campus. This includes color photographs by Mary Free Bed photojournalist Eric Miller.
Eric’s images of patients, staff and Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports’ athletes adorn the walls of the exam rooms and waiting areas in Orthotics & Prosthetics, the halls of inpatient areas and therapy gyms.
Peaceful nature scenes, which Eric photographed in and around the Greater Grand Rapids area, cover the walls behind every inpatient bed. Patients and visitors can enjoy the tranquility that comes with looking at images of water, trees and flowers, instead of a clinical white wall.
Beautifully framed paintings, photographs and drawings hang throughout the building. These works are by former patients and other disabled West Michigan artists who’ve participated in the Mary Free Bed Guild’s Annual Mary Free Bed Fine Arts Exhibition. Our collection is ever-growing as the Guild purchases selected works each year for permanent display on our campus.