Eskenazi Health Welcomes “May/September,” Indy’s Newest Art Installation

The 12,000-square-foot piece marks the largest sculptural art installation in Indianapolis

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972  
, March 11, 2014 – A 12,000-square-foot piece of art has transformed the south end of the Eskenazi Health campus. Set for completion today, the one-of-a-kind work of art is both the largest sculptural art piece in Indianapolis as well as the newest art installation to adorn the city.
As one of 19 artists commissioned to create original works for the new Eskenazi Health campus, Rob Ley used a truly unique landscape for his original piece – the south façade of the newly built Eskenazi Health Parking Garage. The piece, titled “May/September,” relies on approximately 6,500 multi-colored, metal “leaves” that offer pedestrians and other onlookers a unique visual experience, depending on their vantage point and the pace at which they move throughout the site.
“In this way, pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles within close proximity to the hospital will experience a noticeable shift in color and transparency as they move across the hospital grounds, while motorists driving along Michigan Street will experience a faster, gradient color shift, which changes on their direction of travel,” said Ley. “The effect is then only heightened by the direction and intensity of sunlight on the metal leaves both throughout the day and during the different seasons.”
The color selection for the metal leaves was both intentional and thoughtful. With one side gold and the other indigo, the color of the metal leaves drew inspiration from T.C. Steele’s “Four Seasons,” part of the original art program that was installed at Indianapolis City Hospital 100 years ago. Meant to represent the changing of Indiana’s distinct seasons, the colors were also chosen to remain visible and vibrant throughout the year, even on the most snowy, overcast or rainy of days.
“When we were planning the Eskenazi Health campus, we knew we would need a substantial parking garage, but we also knew that parking garages do not typically contribute to a visually enjoyable and vibrant landscape,” said Matthew Gutwein, president and chief executive officer of Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County. “Our answer was to use the garage as a canvas for an art installation that would further change the landscape of not only our new campus, but also our neighborhood and our entire city. As ‘May/September’ nears completion, it serves as a testament to the power of design, that even a parking garage can both functionally and aesthetically respond to a need and create something inspiring and beautiful.”
The piece was fabricated by Indianapolis Fabrications, or iFab, a locally owned and operated company that specializes in fine art fabrication, prototyping, limited-run custom design products, art conservation and restoration, and more. The success of this project, a project several years in the making, has been so successful that Ley and iFab have already begun collaborating together on other art installations throughout the nation.
“A century ago, the St. Margaret's Hospital Guild brought together prominent artists to paint murals – more than a quarter mile of them – for what was then City Hospital’s new building but, more central to their artistic ambitions, to lift spirits and improve the healing process. It is our great responsibility to honor and carry this legacy forward,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “It has been a true pleasure to bring together a collection of such talented artists and fabricators, both local and from across the country, to further develop and continue the healing arts program at Eskenazi Health.”
Ley, an artist and architect, founded Urbana Studio to engage innovative materials and formal approaches in developing environments that respond physically to human inhabitation and experience. The studio’s work often includes the fusing of highly textural forms with both natural and controlled light. Ley graduated with his bachelors in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and his masters in architecture form the University of California, Los Angeles. With a vast background in architecture in public art, Ley is currently on the design faculty at the University of Southern California, teaching undergraduate and graduate studios and seminars on fabrication and digital technology.
The Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus opened on Dec. 7, 2013. Eskenazi Health offers a welcoming environment of health and healing through access to natural settings and an extensive art collection, which studies show contributes to improved health outcomes.
Following an extensive public engagement and comment process, Eskenazi Health’s art committee selected artists that represent the rich diversity of the Indianapolis community, including native Hoosiers and artists born or living in Indianapolis, and artists representing women, minorities and people with disabilities. More than half – 57.8 percent – of the full art program comes from local Indiana artists, while 47 percent of the artists are minorities, 31.5 percent are female, 10.5 percent are veteran, 5.2 percent are individuals with disabilities and 5.2 percent are seniors. The Eskenazi Health Art Program is being funded by philanthropy.