Spring DHMC exhibit features artists, staff

by Margarette Nelson | 4/22/14 4:11pm

A woman stood up from her waiting area chair on the third floor of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Faulkner Building to inspect a photograph. On the wall before her were over 20 images captured by Vermont photographer Hunter Paye.

“Wow, so pretty,” the woman said, leaning in to bring her face within inches of one photograph.

Paye, along with local painter Georgina Forbes and contemporary digital artist Gloria King Merritt, are featured in DHMC’s spring rotating exhibition program, which will remain on view through July. Artwork by 40 employees and volunteers will also be hung in the hospital’s hallways and rotunda exhibition spaces.

The spring exhibit, which will open April 29, is one of five rotating shows throughout the year. The program has existed “in some format” for the past two decades, DHMC arts program coordinator Marianne Barthel said.

“We look for any type of art that will provide a positive and uplifting environment,” Barthel said.

Merritt, who has 13 pieces of digital art on display, described participating in the exhibition as a particularly fitting way to launch her career in digital art. A few years ago, Merritt, a lifelong painter, broke a tendon in her right hand and was left without a full range of motion in her thumb. Merritt underwent surgery and subsequent occupational therapy at DHMC.

While in occupational therapy, Merritt said she was encouraged to practice moving the tip of her thumb as often as possible. After success experimenting with a stylus pen on a tablet, she soon progressed to other software to create digital art from layers of patterns.

“What’s the difference between painting with something you smear on a board and making it digital?” Merritt said.

Merritt said she enjoys making digital art and no longer desires to return to painting.

Though artists typically apply to participate in the rotating exhibit, Barthel contacted Paye after seeing his photographs online. Barthel said that because Paye was only living in the area for a limited amount of time, she wanted to display his work this season.

Paye said his relationship with the camera grew from his “documenting of passing sites” over the past few years to a “full love for photography itself.” A singer-songwriter who has spent “thousands and thousands of miles” touring over the past decade, Paye draws inspiration from his travels, he said.

The exhibit marks the first time Paye has printed his photographs for display, he said. He also made his first sale last week, he said.

“It’s world of firsts, like learning a new language,” Paye said. “I know how to do this in the world of music, [and] now [I’m] doing it in photography.”

Submissions for the rotating exhibition have increased in recent years and there is a yearlong wait to participate in the program, Barthel said. Most artists live in the Upper Valley, Barthel said, but DHMC has displayed work by artists from as far as New York City and Maine.

Barthel described the program as a “win-win” that lets artists display their works while creating a healing and uplifting environment, in line with the program’s mission. Barthel said she routinely receives positive feedback from families and staff members who view the exhibits.

“[Patients] walk with their IV poles to see the art,” Barthel said.

The works are placed in various display areas. Forbes’s abstract landscapes are hung on a wall in the fourth-floor endoscopy hallway, where they are brightly lit by natural light. Merritt’s work is featured in a spacious fifth-floor rotunda space.

“To actually stand back and see a piece from a distance is a hard space to get,” Merritt said. “The light is great.”

Paye noted that receiving positive feedback from DHMC patients has been particularly rewarding. When Paye visited the hospital last week to hang his art, many visitors walked straight up to inspect his works’ details, he said.

Works by Forbes, Merritt and Paye can be purchased through each respective artist, and the DHMC arts program will receive 25 percent of the proceeds from any sales.