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Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital commissioned artist Jerry Catania to create a permanent installation for the lobby of our main entrance. He titled the piece “Bloom.” Art plays an important role in the healing process, and “bloom” is defined as “to glow with health.”

The nature-inspired, blown-glass pendants of “Bloom” add a warm and inviting atmosphere to our three-story atrium, welcoming visitors to Mary Free Bed, where hope and freedom … bloom.

New Bloom Web Header Lobby“Bloom” was an official entry in the eighth annual ArtPrize, the international art competition that attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Grand Rapids each fall.

Total weight: 1,500 pounds (350 pieces)

Art form: 3D

Medium: Glass, metal

“Bloom” is one of the most recent installations of original art at Mary Free Bed. Catania also created other blown-glass pieces installed throughout campus. 

About Jerry Catania

Jerry Catania has worked professionally for 45 years as an artist and art educator. He began working in glass in 1972 as a part of renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s glassblowing summer workshop, which evolved into Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash. He returned to southwest Michigan and opened Fiasco Glass, his first private glass studio. In 1985, he was invited to add a glassblowing studio to the summer art program at Ox-Bow School of Painting in Saugatuck, which now houses off-campus programs of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1990, he moved his private studio to Glenn, where he worked and taught until 2004, when the studio relocated to Benton Harbor and become Water Street Glassworks, a not-for-profit school of glass and metal art.

Artist’s statement

BLOOM consists of four interrelated blown and hot-sculpted glass and metal sculptures that compose the entire work.

By definition, the word bloom is “a time of flowering” and offers up a variety of meanings, many of which describe good health (“a period of greatest health … a youthful, healthy glow … to be in one’s prime … to glow with health”).

It is my hope that BLOOM inspires all who come through the doors of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to “bloom” and feel a personal sense of renewal.

My charge was to create a work that glows with positive, intense energy. The phrase “Wow-factor” was used to describe my creative task. Early feedback from viewers during the installation of BLOOM was a feeling of happiness.

Glass has the natural ability to interact with light and color, to be fluid in its many forms and to convey a natural, innate energy. The medium of glass is a perfect choice to interpret my intent. The natural flower-like forms, the intense, exciting color palette and the graceful energy seen in the underlying steel armature represent all the ideas and feelings I hope to convey.

Flowers are symbolic of the healing journey. Given as a gift, they bring life, joy and love into people’s lives. They extend the comfort and good will of the givers.

BLOOM will remain here at Mary Free Bed to provide its positive energy to both the healing and the healers, as they embark on their wellness journey together.

– Jerry Catania

“Bloom” team members: 

Josh Andres – Collaborator/Sculptor        Kathy Catania – Design/Color Coordinator

Eli Zilke – Main Glassblower                         Lynne Clayton – Installation/Fabrication

Dave Clayton – Installation/Technician